What is Piracetam, and is the headache from this common?
Piracetam is a classic and one of the most well-studied nootropics (cognitive enhancer) substances of the racetam class, a chemical family of compounds produced synthetically. Its chemical name is 2-oxo-1-pyrrolidine acetamide. Piracetam has a reputation of a broad-action substance in relation to its introduction either in healthy individuals or in persons with specific, usually neurological diseases.
It is very widely used in the medical community in Europe for the wealth of its health-benefits, although it doesn’t always substitute therapy based on medical drugs. Piracetam is hydrophilic (possessing affinity for water) and in human use it is not necessary to ingest it together with food. While it has a weaker quantitative strength to other nootropic racetams, meaning that the effective dose is relatively large. It has one of the most-well documented nootropic and other health benefiting effects in plenty of clinical studies.
It is potent neuroprotective compound, mind enhancer and memory-improving substance which offers strong neurological and cognitive benefits, combined with virtually non-existing toxicity. Further advantage of Piracetam is that, for achieving better mind performance, it stacks efficiently and harmlessly with other nootropics, with much increased effect achieved with combination with Aniracetam, a racetam with nootropic and anxiolytic properties. Headaches can occur with Piracetam if choline is not used in correlation to how much of the racetam is taken. Typically, one choline pill should be taken per Piracetam pill you take to prevent headaches.
The recommended dosage of Piracetam in both healthy and people affected with neurodegenerative disease is 1,200mg to 3,600mg daily, taken in at least three occasions throughout the day. While bulk powder is available, due to Piracetam’s very bitter taste, affinity for absorbing water (which will completely degrade it over time) and relative difficulty in dosing of the powdered form, ingested Capsules are preferred for consumption. Peak concentration in the plasma in young people is reached roughly one hour after ingestion on an empty stomach (about three hours from the last meal or one hour prior to eating). Dosages from 400mg to 4.800mg are perfectly safe and efficient for a healthy subject who wishes to experience nootropic effects.
Antithrombotic effect (effective against blood clothing, a serious medical emergency) has been demonstrated in studies as occurring with ingestion of high-doses (4,800mg to 9.600mg). Smaller doses do not have any appreciable effect on this condition.
It is suggested that this prophylactic effect is on pair with Aspirin preparations, but with better overall tolerability, including absence of any increase of risk for stomach ulcers, occasionally seen in long-time users of Aspirin.
A number of studies as well as anecdotal evidence show that Piracetam may be of benefit in dyslexia; however, consultation with a specialist is needed for evaluation and eventual recommendation.
Piracetam helps preserving brain cells from damage from chronic heavy alcohol use by increasing organization of synapses and opposing neurotoxic effect seen in alcoholic patients. Tardive Dyskinesia, abnormal gait, limb movement and involuntary grimacing seen in people treated with neuroleptics, are partially ameliorated with introduction of Piracetam in their therapeutic regimen.
Most significantly, Piracetam gained prominence in cerebral stroke management. Regardless of the fact that medical drugs are the first line of intervention and maintenance of this condition, Piracetam, depending on the severity, greatly improves perfusion of blood in the brain. In improvements over mid-term, it is thought that Piracetam facilitates better ‘collaboration’ of brain hemispheres (as well as vasodilating action) that brings compensation for the lost functions in the stroke-affected part of the brain, especially in the case of milder strokes. For this indication, it is branded and widely used in a number of countries, especially in Europe.
All of the effects beneficiary to population with neurological pathology, most of which appearing in senior age are based on several modes of action, including improvement of function of synapses, neuroprotective effect against common atmospheric as well as consumed toxins, actions against free radicals that increase the relative aging process, as well as discreet action on several neurotransmitters.
Effects on the mind
The wealth of studies over more than 4 decades brought a consensus in the scientific community that Piracetam, by influencing NMDA and AMPA receptor sites, vastly improves capabilities for learning and formation of new memories.
The general improvement of neurotransmission, coupled with effect on the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, accounts for most of its nootropic properties. It has to be emphasized that Piracetam is neither a sedative substance (‘a downer’) nor it is a stimulant that boosts the expression of the dopamine, even in larger doses. Choline, aside from preventing the Piracetam headche, also helps to potentiate the drug’s effects on the brain, and allows for a higher output of acetylcholine in critical regions, such as the brain’s frontal lobe.
Its stimulating effect consists of acute, subtle alternation of neurological process responsible for function of learning, improving short and long-term memory and improved mental vigilance, as well as reducing mental fatigue due to prolonged scholastic or other intellectual work. Sensory function and improved focus are apparent in use of Piracetam, together with reduced anxiety and depression; these are conditions that even in their mildest forms strongly reduce social engagement as well as task-oriented efficiency.
Cholinergic mode of action – increase of the beneficial activity of transmitter acetylcholine – is considered as one of the primary reasons for such strong nootropic action, which is furthermore optimized with choline supplementation, a quintessential combination that provides even greater boost in mental performance. Thoughts (especially abstract thinking), perception, learning understanding, analyzing problems of high complexity are becoming faster and more efficient with Piracetam.
Piracetam is considered as one of the safest nootropic racetems, which are all rather harmless. The side-effects in both initiations into its use, as well as in consumption of large doses may cause rash, stomach upset, rarely diarrhea and headache. These unpleasant effects generally disappear after reduction of the dose, which is individual and should not exceed under normal circumstances more than 4,800mg per day.
In case of headaches, supplementation with choline, which supplies the body with ability to produce sufficient quantity of acetylcholine, prevents the depletion of the latter which is the cause of the headache.
Nausea and ‘nervousness’ are reported in very high intake of Piracetam. Although the same advice of reducing the dose and supplementing it with choline is valid, a consultation with your physician is recommended in these very rare cases.
Is this legal?
FDA (Food and Drug Administration), the chief regulatory body for nutrition and pharmaceuticals in US, discourages occasionally advertising of Piracetam as a “drug” in strict, clinical sense of the word (regardless of global usage of this nootropic in many countries, where it is licensed as a medication or as dietary supplement).
This, however, has value of a “suggestion” and it doesn’t mean that Piracetam is illegal in the US. It is legal to purchase, keep and use Piracetam. In situation where urine or blood screening is periodically performed (by corporations, governing athletic organizations etc.), Piracetam is never routinely sought for. Piracetam is available by US companies.
Final thoughts on the Piracetam Headache
In the dynamic world of today, when scholastic, academic and professional obligations are increasingly intellectually demanding, many people self-medicate the fatigue from such speedy flow of information challenging the mind as exponentially more demanding tasks.
While socially and sometimes legally frowned upon, a small minority may turn to “stimulant” drug use. Most of these pharmaceuticals and other substances simply create a strong sense of wellness mistaken for a real “stimulation”, which is increased capability of brain processing of raw information and prior knowledge into something new in an efficient manner.
Piracetam, a classic racetam nootropic doesn’t offer such superficial “stimulation”. Studied extensively for five decades, since its invention in 1964 and in clinical practice in many countries, including developed ones where substances like Piracetam are subject to strict scientific scrutiny, Piracetam emerged as a novelty that stood the test of time.
Enormous benefits for human health such as prevention of stress-based premature aging, defense of neural structures from toxin, anxiolytic effect as well as more pronounced effect on memory and data recall, coupled with integrating both brain’s hemisphere for creative edge of the mind, make Piracetam a primary choice as a “basic” nootropic, easily and safely stacked with other racetams for optimum utilization of the mind’s cognitive capabilities.