What Is Aniracetam?
Aniracetam is a potent, fast-acting nootropic supplement that many consider a powerful cognitive enhancer and mood booster.
Discovered in the 1970s by Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffman-LaRoche, aniracetam is sold as a prescription drug in Europe but is unregulated in the US, Canada, and the UK.
Aniracetam is an analog of piracetam, the first synthetic nootropic, and was originally developed as a more potent piracetam alternative.
Aniracetam is part of the racetam family of nootropics, a group of synthetic compounds that are similar in both chemical structure and mechanisms of action.
Like other racetams, aniracetam works primarily by modulating the production and release of neurotransmitters and other brain chemicals.
Benefits and Effects of Aniracetam
Though there have been relatively few human studies on aniracetam, it has been extensively researched for decades, and a substantial body of animal studies appear to support its efficacy as a nootropic. Aniracetam has several documented benefits and effects.
Enhanced Memory and Learning Capacity
Aniracetam’s reputation as a memory enhancer is backed up by research that indicates that it can improve functional memory and even reverse memory impairment.
In a study involving healthy human subjects, aniracetam was found to selectively improve various aspects of memory, including visual recognition, motor performance, and general intellectual functioning.
The means by which aniracetam enhances memory was investigated in animal studies which found that it positively impacts the pharmacological profile associated with learning and memory by elevating levels of acetylcholine, serotonin, glutamate, and dopamine in the brain.
Increased Focus and Concentration
Aniracetam is considered by many users to be one of the best nootropics for improving focus and concentration.
Though no human studies have centered on this aspect of the compound, its well-documented effects on acetylcholine, dopamine, and other important neurotransmitters strongly support this hypothesis.
Aniracetam also acts as an ampakine in stimulating the glutamate receptors that are involved in memory encoding and neuroplasticity, both of which are associated with focus and concentration.
One of aniracetam’s most important characteristics is its potential as an anxiolytic, or anxiety reducer.
Animal studies showed that aniracetam effectively reduced measures of anxiety and increased social interaction in rats, possibly by a combination of dopaminergic and serotonergic actions.
Though there are no documented clinical trials or studies specifically focusing on aniracetam’s anxiolytic effect on humans, a clinical trial on its use as a dementia treatment did indicate that subjects taking aniracetam experienced less anxiety.
It is widely believed that the increased serotonin and dopamine that reduced anxiety in rats may have the same effect on people, and many users report decreased anxiety when taking aniracetam.
Aniracetam also proved to be an effective anti-depressant in aged rats, significantly diminishing stress-induced immobility and brain dysfunction associated with aging.
Japanese researchers investigating the use of aniracetam for treating patients with post-stroke depression indicated that the positive anti-depression effects were notably more pronounced in aged rats than in young ones, but whether that finding holds true for humans is not clear.
Aniracetam’s anti-depression capability is believed to be primarily due to increased dopaminergic transmission and acetylcholine receptor stimulation.
Clinical trials have shown aniracetam to be a safe and effective treatment for mild to severe dementia, enhancing mood and improving function for at least 12 months.
In one of the few human studies on aniracetam, a total of 276 cognitive disorder patients with a mean age of 71 years were divided into four groups to test the effectiveness of aniracetam as a dementia treatment, alone or in combination with other drugs. Over a period of 12 months, patients treated with aniracetam demonstrated significantly better cognitive performance, improved function, and enhanced mood and emotional stability.
How It Works
Aniracetam’s exact mechanisms of action are not completely understood, but decades of research give a good indication of how it impacts mood and cognition by its actions within the brain and central nervous system.
Aniracetam is a fat-soluble compound that is metabolized in the liver and quickly absorbed and transported throughout the body. It is known to cross the blood-brain barrier very quickly, and users frequently report feeling its effects in as little as 30 minutes.
In the brain, aniracetam upregulates the production of several crucial neurotransmitters, all of which are associated with mood, memory, and cognition:
Acetylcholine – Aniracetam may improve general cognition by enhancing activity throughout the acetylcholine system, which plays a pivotal role in memory, attention span, learning speed and other cognitive processes. Animal studies suggest that it works by binding to acetylcholine receptors, inhibiting receptor desensitization and promoting the synaptic release of acetylcholine.
Dopamine and Serotonin – Aniracetam has been shown to increase levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which in turn is known to relieve depression, boost energy, and lessen anxiety. By binding to dopamine and serotonin receptors, aniracetam inhibits the breakdown of these important neurotransmitters and restores optimum levels of both, making it an effective mood enhancer and anxiolytic.
Glutamate Transmission – Aniracetam may be uniquely effective at improving memory and information storage because of the way it enhances the transmission of glutamate, the neurotransmitter that plays the primary role in neural activation. By binding to and stimulating the AMPA and kainate receptors, glutamate receptors strongly associated with information storage and the creation of new memories, aniracetam may improve neuroplasticity in general and long-term potentiation in particular.
While individual requirements vary, a daily dosage of 750–1500 mg is typically accepted as both safe and effective, though doses of up to 3000 mg daily have been documented as well-tolerated.
One human study involving individuals with senile cognitive disorders reported benefits over placebo at 1500 mg/day.
It is always recommended to start with the minimum effective dose and gradually increase as necessary.
Like most nootropics in the racetam family, the effects of aniracetam may diminish if too much is present in the system, so dosage should be monitored closely.
Because of its relatively brief half-life of one to three hours, dosage may have to be repeated at intervals to maintain effects.
Like most racetams, aniracetam works well on its own or in combination with other nootropics. Here are some common aniracetam stacks to consider.
Aniracetam and Choline Stack
The addition of a supplemental choline source is usually recommended when taking racetams, such as aniracetam. Choline, an essential nutrient which we consume in our diet, is a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine which responsible for various brain functions such as memory.
Supplementing a high-quality, bioavailable source of supplemental choline, such as alpha GPC or citicoline, may have nootropic effects of its own by ensuring the availability of the necessary building blocks for synthesizing acetylcholine.
This process is especially relevant when taking aniracetam since it works in part by stimulating the cholinergic system. Supplementing choline ensures that there is enough in your system to maximize aniracetam’s effects while mitigating the potential common side effects that may result from the lack of acetylcholine in the brain such as headaches.
1x–2x per day
- 750 mg Aniracetam
- 300 mg Alpha GPC
The PAO Stack
The PAO stack, an acronym for piracetam, aniracetam, and oxiracetam, is a classic stack that involves combining these three popular nootropics.
Stacking aniracetam with piracetam and oxiracetam strengthens the perceived effects of all the components in the stack and could potentially extend the period of which the benefits are experienced. Including piracetam may also intensify aniracetam’s anti-depressive and anti-anxiety properties. As previously mentioned, it’s usually a good idea to include a choline source.
Before attempting a stack this complex, it is recommended that you have experience with the individual components of the stack before combining them. Only consider this stack once you are familiar with each of their respective effects and how you react to them.
Also remember when combining racetams, or nootropics in general, you should consume less than you’d usually dose if taken on their own because most nootropics have synergistic effects.
1x–2x per day
- 1,600 mg Piracetam
- 400 mg Aniracetam
- 400 mg Oxiracetam
- 300 mg Alpha GPC
When taken at recommended dosages, aniracetam produces very few documented side effects, and those that are reported are both minor and temporary.
The most frequently reported side effects of aniracetam are headaches and mild nausea, both of which can often be successfully addressed by the addition of a choline source.
High doses of aniracetam can result in a feeling of excessive nervousness, digestive discomfort, or both. If either of these effects occurs, try reducing dosage.
Some users report a loss of inhibition when taking aniracetam; while not necessarily an unwelcome side effect, a sudden feeling of loss of inhibition could be surprising and perhaps unsettling (especially in retrospect).
Each user should carefully monitor their response while taking aniracetam or any nootropic to ensure that the results are as expected and as wanted.
Aniracetam is a popular nootropic, and with good reason: its reputation as a multi-faceted cognitive enhancer that can improve memory and focus while reducing anxiety and lifting depression is backed up by decades of research.
It’s powerful and fast-acting, has a low incidence of side effects and is moderately priced. It’s effective on its own (though additional choline is always recommended when taking any of the racetams), and many users report that it can add a new dimension to both mood and cognition when incorporated in a nootropic stack.
If you’re looking for a nootropic that promotes calmness while sharpening cognitive skills, aniracetam may be the answer.
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