What is Aniracetam?

Douglas Bonderud

Aniracetam is a supplement used to stimulate alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptors in the brain. It is also known as Draganon, Sarpul and Ampamet. Chemically, it is a member of the racetam class of compounds, which have a pyrrolidone nucleus at their core.

Aniracetam has been used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
Aniracetam has been used in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

This compound is sold in Europe as a prescription drug, and in the United States as a dietary supplement. It is considered a nootropic compound, which means that it is intended to increase mental function. Nootropic drugs are also known as cognition enhancers. The mechanism of action for aniracetam is unknown, but clinical trials of the drug on animals have shown it to have anti-anxiety, or anxiolytic, effects. These claims have not been verified by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In some cases, children who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are treated using aniracetam.
In some cases, children who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are treated using aniracetam.

Aniracetam is similar in structure and function to the compound piracetam, but aniracetam has a far higher fat solubility. This means that it has a greater ability to pentrate the brain via the blood-brain barrier, and, as a result, has longer lasting effects. Both drugs have been used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s, and both have a low toxicity. Aniracetam is considered to be three to ten times as potent as piracetam.

In the United States, aniracetam is available as a dietary supplement.
In the United States, aniracetam is available as a dietary supplement.

The daily recommended dose of this supplement is between 750 and 3,000 milligrams (mg). This drug can be taken in one large dose or two smaller doses over the course of a day. It may cause side effects, such as headaches and nausea.

Aniracetam is the parent drug of all manufactured compounds that affect the AMPA receptors, which are known as ampakines. These substances increase attention span and alertness, in addition to enhancing memory. Ampakines are considered stimulants, but do not produce the same kind of side effects as other stimulants, like caffeine and Ritalin™, after prolonged use.

Ampakines have been investigated as potential treatments for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). A 2006 study showed these compounds have a persistent effect, even after being expelled from the body. Both memory and cognition also continued to improve in test subjects, even in the absence of ampakines.

The most prominent manufacturer of ampakines is Cortex Pharmaceuticals, which owns patents for many of the medical uses of this class of drugs. Two of their most popular brands include Ampalex™ and Farampator™. Since the beginning of their development program, the potency of these drugs has increased fivefold. Other companies have also developed aniracetam-based ampakines, but they are used in animal trials.

Aniracetam is able to penetrate the brain via the blood-brain barrier, providing lasting effects.
Aniracetam is able to penetrate the brain via the blood-brain barrier, providing lasting effects.

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Discussion Comments


I strongly encourage aniracetam to anyone who wants to bolster their creativity and language skills. It has worked wonders for my life - academic, social, and profession


@browncoat: Education is about learning for yourself, not comparing yourself to other students. If cognitive enhancers can help you absorb more knowledge during your education, then you are using that period of your life better with less wasted time and energy. You will also be able to provide your employer, colleagues and clients with more value and may be a better person to work with, creating innovations and ideas which save them time and be someone who gets stuff done.

A student may let their ego be affected by others' success, or they may be less competitive than others when they are marked on a curve, but that is a problem with the curve system, not the students who enhances his or her brain.

Remember, education is for you, not for your parents, not for society, not for proving that you are better than other students. Logic, self esteem training, personal development workshops, therapy, good social experiences, good diet and nutrition all make people significantly better employees and students. Should these also be limited because some can't or won't partake of them? It's not about fairness; it's about what you can do to make your life work out and provide value for the people you interact with. Take nootropics if you can afford them. It's your life and they may help you make the most of it.


I disagree with browncoat too; I'm pretty sure aniracetam is very dissimilar to anabolic steroids.

As to whether it is fair or not, I see it like this: I'm a medical student. When I graduate, and even possibly before then, I will have an awfully large amount of opportunities to accidentally kill someone, because medicine is awesome! Any supplement, legal drug or intervention of any kind that I can accept the contraindications of that will decrease the chances of that ever happening, well, it seems like it would be ethically necessary to take.

The cost of them is pretty close to negligible too, so that argument is not even a thing. I'm not advertising for the buggers, but it exists as a market that is competitive, and of course always expanding, which makes the older, often considered under-powered drugs like aniracetam, very cheap. Sure, rich kid students might be able to afford the amazing nootripics like noopeptide, but who cares? I believe any social effect of these drugs is negligible compared to the benefits we might well gain (though it's possible I'm wrong, I admit. I was wrong once before).

And look, ethically, can we really say we'd prefer a "fair" environment for a class of students anyway, or is what we really care about the quality of the grads they turn out?

I would love to see some philosophy, law and probably especially med student graduates with appropriate doses of aniracetam in their blood, because I just know that would mean they were up writing responses on a wisegeek article after searching anatomy biochem and I think I embalmed a gentleman earlier tonight, but that was a long time ago and whatever floats your boat, eh?


Aniracetam is inexpensive, and can be bought by anyone.


@irontoenail - To some extent I agree with you, in that it's difficult to draw a line when it comes to pharmacological help.

But I also have to say that these kinds of drugs can wind up being very expensive. They are the kind of thing that rich kids can afford, but poor kids cannot.

That's one of the problems I have with them, because they give an additional advantage to people who already have plenty of advantages. If they were cheap or easily available to all the students (and why not? If they actually do help, without causing any harm, they should be just as ubiquitous as coffee) then I would be fine with them.

I don't really see it as any different from taking fish oil capsules to increase your brain power. Just a slightly more powerful dose.


@browncoat - It's not the same situation as a sports competition though. I would argue that the students aren't competing against each other but against themselves. They don't have to beat one another (although in some classes, of course, it does feel that way). What they have to do is learn.

I know it is set up so that they need to get a certain grade in order to "succeed" but let's not forget that the end goal is supposed to be the learning, not the grade. And either the learning is there, or it isn't.

If drugs can help them learn more, without harming them, then I don't see why it gives them an unfair advantage. It's just another tool to help them learn as much as they can and get their money's worth out of the course.

If aniracetam side effects aren't serious, I don't see why anyone would have any more problem with someone using it, than with them drinking coffee to help them stay up and study later at night.


I think as these kinds of nootropics become more and more potent it will become more of an issue whether or not they should be used by students, particularly during exams.

At the moment I don't think there are any drugs which could give a student a huge advantage over another student. Although I'm not sure what the effects of certain illegal drugs like speed might be on someone who is studying.

But if they are developing drugs which can enhance cognitive abilities, those could have a definite advantage. And unless people are willing to make sure all students have equal access to these drugs, it's not fair for one to have it, and the others not.

It's just like in sports where they have to make sure that people aren't taking performance enhancing drugs. Otherwise it's not fair to anyone.

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