Piracetam is the original nootropic drug, for which the category was first defined. Piracetam is one of the least toxic drugs ever discovered: "Piracetam is apparently virtually non-toxic ? Rats treated chronically with 100 to 1,000 mg/kg orally for 6 months and dogs treated with as much as 10 gm/kg orally for one year did not show any toxic effect."
For a human equivalent, 10 gm/kg would be 700 gm (11/2 pounds!) for a 70 kg (154 pound) person. Piracetam has been shown to improve memory, EEG, alertness and mental performance in a wide variety of human clinical studies.
Piracetam restored normal EEG and state of consciousness in people suffering acute and chronic cerebral ischemia (decreased brain blood flow). (78, 79) Piracetam has improved alertness and IQ in elderly psychiatric patients suffering from "mild diffuse cerebral impairment." Piracetam increased memory and verbal learning in dyslexic children, as well as speed and accuracy of reading, writing and spelling.
Piracetam has improved mental performance in "aging, non-deteriorated individuals" suffering only from "middle-aged forgetfulness." Elderly outpatients suffering from "age-associated memory impairment" given Piracetam showed significant improvement in memory consolidation and recall, and as Smith and Lowrey note in a study on concentration in elderly subjects, "Concentration is intimately involved in the process of reception, storage, and recall [of memories]."
Like vinpocetine, Piracetam reversed typical EEG slowing (which mimics the EEG of the ADD brain state) associated with normal and pathological human aging, increasing beta (fast) EEG activity, while simultaneously increasing vigilance, attention and memory. In a 1987 study, Grau and co-workers fed rats i.v. radioactive deoxyglucose to help measure brain metabolism. Compared to saline controls, piracetam rats had a 22% increase in whole brain glucose metabolism, while the increase in 12 specific brain regions ranged from 16 to 28%. The increase in brain energy metabolism occurred under normal oxygen conditions. And remember - decreased brain energy metabolism equals reduced focus and attention, while increased brain energy metabolism equals enhanced focus and attention.
Typical piracetam dosages range from 800 - 1600 mg 2 to 4 times daily. Piracetam may (very rarely) cause headache, insomnia, over-stimulation or irritability. This is most likely to occur in heavy caffeine-users, or those taking high doses of other nootropics.
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