Pramiracetam - An Overview
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Pramiracetam (N-[2-[di(propan-2-yl) amino] ethyl]-2-(2-oxopyrrolidin-1-yl) is a central nervous system stimulant and nootropic agent belonging to the racetam family of drugs.
It is a derivative of the original racetam, piracetam. It was first synthesized in the 1970s, and is considered 30x more effective than the original piracetam.
It was originally developed as an anti-Parkinson’s drug, but has since become noticed for it’s cognitive enhancing properties. It has become popular among nootropics users for:
Pramiracetam is considered an “ampakine.” It works by stimulating the transmission of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh). It does this by modulating the AMPA and NMDA receptors in the brain. Acetylcholine is heavily tied to memory and cognition.
Pramiracetam also has notable neuroprotective qualities. In fact, it may help restore brain function after stroke or traumatic injury.
In many parts of the world, pramiracetam is a prescription drug. In America, it is considered an OTC supplement.
It is generally a good idea to stack pramiracetam (or any racetam) with a good source of choline.
This is because racetams use up your body’s choline stores, so it is necessary to supplement with extra.
If you don’t you may run the risk of getting a headache. Alpha-GPC and CDP-Choline are great options for this.
What Does Pramiracetam Do?
Pramiracetam For Memory And Learning
Most of the available clinical studies focus on older or cognitively impaired populations.
However, we can still use them to see the advantages of pramiracetam for young and healthy brains.
One study found that supplementing pramiracetam for 18 months could greatly improve memory and recall among men who suffered from brain injury.
The supplement group performed much better on memory tests than the placebo group, even a month after pramiracetam was discontinued.
This points to the permanent long-term benefits of using this nootropic.1McLean A Jr, Cardenas DD, Burgess D, Gamzu E. Placebo-controlled study of pramiracetam in young males with memory and cognitive problems resulting from head injury and anoxia, Brain Inj. 1991
Another trial looked at a small group of healthy elderly patients. They were either given hands-on memory training, pramiracetam, both, or neither.
Then, they were given a series of memory tests.
The group that had both the pramiracetam and the memory training scored the best, followed by pramiracetam only, memory training only, and finally the control group.
Researchers concluded that pramiracetam had a very noticeable positive effect on the participants.2De Vreese LP, et al. Memory training and drug therapy act differently on memory and metamemory functioning: evidence from a pilot study, Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 1996
Due to its effects on memory and learning, some people use pramiracetam for ADHD. There have not been any direct studies on this use, but some users find it effective.
Pramiracetam For Cognitive Enhancement
Pramiracetam is also known to improve overall cognitive ability by modulating ACh production. This overlaps with its neuroprotective qualities as well.
Multiple studies have looked at pramiracetam’s effects on repairing cognitive ability in patients suffering from brain injury or neurodegeneration.
Experiencing a stroke, physical damage or a disease such as Parkinson’s can rapidly deteriorate thought process.
Luckily, pramiracetam can repair overall mental function in these cases. Patients who take pramiracetam see an across-the-board improvement after a few weeks compared with patients who don’t.3Dziak LA, Golik VA, Miziakina EV. Experience in the application of pramistar, a new nootropic preparation, in the treatment of memory disorders in patients with cerebrovascular pathology, Lik Sprava. 2003 4Malykh AG, Sadaie MR.. Piracetam and piracetam-like drugs: from basic science to novel clinical applications to CNS disorders, Drugs. 2010
To date, there haven’t been any trials involving non-impaired participants. However, pramiracetam’s effects on cognition should translate to average, healthy adults who are looking for a mental boost. Judging from anecdotal reports, this should be the case.
Pramiracetam Is Neuroprotective
Pramiracetam was originally conceived as a drug to treat Parkinson’s, due to its ability to protect the brain and preserve cognitive function as you age.
Aging is associated with a decline in ACh, cerebral blood flow, and choline uptake, all of which this nootropic can reverse.
There is clinical evidence that it can help even otherwise healthy people maintain brain health.
One study induced temporary amnesia in healthy participants by injecting a compound called scopolamine.
The group that took pramiracetam did about 50% better on cognitive tests than those receiving placebo.
This is clear evidence of how it can preserve mental abilities through adverse conditions. Pramiracetam should also prevent natural age-related memory loss.5Dziak LA, Golik VA, Miziakina EV. Experience in the application of pramistar, a new nootropic preparation, in the treatment of memory disorders in patients with cerebrovascular pathology, Lik Sprava. 2003
Another study shows that pramiracetam was effective in restoring memory loss/disorientation in patients with mild cerebral trauma.
It also alleviated headaches, dizziness, and nausea.6Tkachev AV. Application of nootropic agents in complex treatment of patients with concussion of the brain, Lik Sprava. 2007
Pramiracetam vs Piracetam
Pramiracetam is much more potent and is used in lower doses than piracetam. It is also significantly more bioavailable.
We consider pramiracetam significantly more effective than its predecessor on pretty much every level.
How Pramiracetam Works In The Brain
Pramiracetam is very bioavailable, and easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.
It is fat-soluble, so the brain (which is mostly fat) can easily take it in and start using it.
When pramiracetam enters the brain, it increases “high affinity choline uptake” (HACU).
This means that synapses take in more choline, which is a necessary compound for ACh synthesis.
The more choline gets taken in, the faster ACh becomes available for cognitive processes. Studies show that increasing HACU improves acetylcholine flow.7Simon JR, Atweh S, Kuhar MJ. Sodium-dependent high affinity choline uptake: a regulatory step in the synthesis of acetylcholine, J Neurochem. 1976
ACh is necessary for a wide variety of mental tasks. In fact, it is the most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain.
In particular, it is heavily linked to memory and recall. It is also necessary for overall mental clarity and flow.8Shih YH, Pugsley TA. The effects of various cognition-enhancing drugs on in vitro rat hippocampal synaptosomal sodium dependent high affinity choline uptake, Life Sci. 1985
The ACh system is also necessary for repairing parts of the brain that have been damaged.
So, this uptick in HACU is what’s responsible for pramiracetam’s nootropic effects.
And, according to rat studies, pramiracetam can also increase blood flow to the brain.
More blood means more oxygen, which should lead to an overall improvement in thought process. More blood also means the brain can better repair itself.9Corasaniti MT, et al. Systemic administration of pramiracetam increases nitric oxide synthase activity in the cerebral cortex of the rat, Funct Neurol. 1995
Pramiracetam Potential Side Effects
Pramiracetam is non-toxic and usually well tolerated.
However, as with all racetams, this nootropic can cause headaches if you do not take it with a source of choline like Alpha-GPC or Citicoline.
Other (rare) side effects we have heard of include:
- Blunted Emotions (Anhedonia)
We strive to bring you the most up to date, research-based information about Pramiracetam and other nootropics.
Something we missed? Do you use Pramiracetam? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
About the author:
Erik Levi is a co-founder of HolisticNootropics.com and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner.
As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life.
Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews.
Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible.
You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.