There are many types of nootropics available on the market today, and all of them do their job well and make life a little easier when it comes to cognitive efforts - it’s just a matter of finding the right one for you.
If you’re still in the process of deciding on the right smart drug for your specific needs or are just exploring your options, read on, because below we’ll talk about a well-known supplement in the nootropics community - aniracetam.
What Is Aniracetam?
Aniracetam is a synthetic nootropic that belongs to the racetam family, a group of chemically similar compounds that modulate different neurotransmitters in the brain, and in this way influence and improve cognition.
In fact, the first to be created of the racetam family was piracetam, back in the 1960s, as a drug intended to treat cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, brain damage, learning disabilities, and seizures.
Derived from neurotransmitter gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) piracetam had a similar base with pyroglutamic acid, which is a natural amino acid derivative. Eventually, it became the basis for other racetams that followed, like aniracetam, oxiracetam, pramiracetam, and phenylpiracetam.
More About Aniracetam
Aniracetam (N-anisoyl-2-pyrrolidinone) was synthesized in the 1970s by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffman-LaRoche.
After the discovery of piracetam and its brain-enhancing effects, scientists wanted to take a step further than piracetam and create an even more powerful nootropic with a wider scope of both health and brain-boosting benefits. Finally, it was discovered that certain modifications in the chemical composition of piracetam could make a superior nootropic, with five times its potency.
That said, aniracetam has an additional anisoyl ring with a methoxy group as a replacement for the amine group in piracetam. This crucial modification in structure makes aniracetam fat-soluble and increases its bioavailability, which is the percentage of the drug that ends up being absorbed by your body and delivering its benefits.
Aniracetam was made to help users optimize their brains to the maximum without overstimulation. The goal was to increase focus, make your mind sharper and faster, and at the same time to positively influence your mood, reduce anxiety and depression, and make you feel more relaxed, calm, and confident.
Aniracetam is prescribed for mood and memory disorders in Europe, however, in the USA it’s not approved by the FDA, but it’s only sold as a dietary supplement. Nonetheless, it has been studied in labs for over sixty years, and even though human studies are lacking, there is sufficient data from animal trials as well as anecdotal evidence that aniracetam has many positive benefits on mood and cognitive performance.
How Does it Work?
Aniracetam is a potent nootropic because it’s highly absorbable in the gut, and because of this, it’s able to reach the brain faster. What makes it so highly absorbable is its lipophilicity (ability to be dissolved in fat), which helps it cross the blood-brain barrier more easily.
In fact, the barrier is very selective, and only water, some gasses (eg. oxygen), and fat-soluble substances can pass through it to get to the brain. Additionally, cholesterol and fatty acid compounds are the most abundant substances in the brain, and this is also why the lipophilicity of aniracetam makes it blend in so easily.
Now, for its mechanisms of action.
As of yet, scientists don’t have enough firm and detailed evidence as to how exactly aniracetam works its magic in the brain. However, it’s been well established through numerous clinical trials that once ingested, it modulates the three most crucial neurotransmitters in the brain, and in this way, it makes changes in the body.
Binds to Glutamate Receptors
Aniracetam binds to glutamate receptors in the brain which gives it the ability to influence memory formation and learning.
Glutamate is the most important excitatory neurotransmitter in your central nervous system. It’s involved in neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to keep itself in good shape by strengthening important neural connections, getting rid of unnecessary ones, and creating new ones, and it’s a crucial process for keeping your brain’s health and vitality in the long run.
Accordingly, aniracetam enhances the production of glutamate by binding to some of its receptors, namely, the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) and kainate receptors.  Both of them are involved in the communication among neural cells, and play a pivotal role in neural processes connected with cognitive function, the learning process, and the regulation of neurons.
In addition, by amplifying glutamate production through the AMPA receptors, it was found that aniracetam also stimulated the production of noradrenaline, which keeps you vigilant, focused, and able to take in information better. 
Boosts Production of Acetylcholine
Acetylcholine is another crucial neurotransmitter in your body, and it plays a vital role in motivation, attention, and memory. Aniracetam is cholinergic, which means that it helps to increase the levels of acetylcholine (ACH) in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that has a major role in concentration, attention span, and learning.
It has been observed in a mouse trial that ACH in the brain was increased by 58% in the first 120min after administration. This led to the conclusion that aniracetam may significantly affect cognitive processes through the stimulation of ACH. 
So, it could be said that enhanced production of the ACH neurotransmitter leads to an enhanced overall function of your brain.
Boosts Levels of Dopamine and Serotonin
Dopamine and serotonin are perhaps the most famous neurotransmitters connected to brain health, mood, and cognition. Boosting the levels of these two neurotransmitters leads to an improved mood, first and foremost, but also to a calmer state of mind and more energy as a result of that.
Dopamine is essential in regulating mood and emotional responses. It’s connected to the pleasure and rewards centers in the brain, and in this way, it plays a major role in motivation. It enables you to keep a better focus on what you’re trying to achieve, and anticipate the reward of your efforts.
Serotonin is also pivotal for many processes in the body, including emotions and mood. It participates in many neurological processes, like memory, appetite, and sleep. It’s derived from tryptophan, an essential amino acid that you should ingest through foods high in tryptophan, like nuts, cheese, etc. Lowered levels of serotonin are thought to lead to increased anxiety and depression.
Aniracetam interacts with both of these neurotransmitters and modulates them. According to one study, it does this by regulating the activity of glutamate and acetylcholine receptors.  This symbiosis of action could be why aniracetam works so synergically to give you a gentle boost of mental agility while keeping your mood level balanced.
The cognitive benefits of aniracetam are multifaceted and similar to other racetams, but with a special focus on mood and holistic thinking. Aniracetam optimizes your brain and makes you more mentally energetic because it works to simultaneously make you calmer as well as more cognitively agile. Here are some of the properties aniracetam has:
Aniracetam can protect your brain from age-related cognitive decline, like Alzheimer’s disease. One human study with elderly subjects with mild to moderate cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer’s has demonstrated that aniracetam had great potential to reverse neural damage by modulating the AMPA receptors, and another proved that it was more effective than piracetam for the same purpose.
The first trial was placebo-controlled and the patients were taking 1500mg of aniracetam for six months. The other trial was done in comparison to piracetam, and it involved taking a higher dose of 2400mg a day also for six months. In both cases, the tests showed that there were notable improvements in the patients’ condition, and aniracetam was very well tolerated and didn’t cause a rise of enzyme levels in the liver. In the second trial, aniracetam proved better than piracetam in 8 of 18 tests. 
Enhances Memory & Learning
Aniracetam has also been shown to enhance the memory process and to make learning easier. This is part of why it’s so popular among college students. One animal study focused on impaired cognitive functions related to memory and learning and came to some very interesting findings.
Namely, they put the mice through six different tests and procedures that were supposed to impair or in some way obstruct their cognitive function and learning ability. They concluded that the impaired memory and learning process were, in fact, normalized after all procedures, with no exceptions. They compared it to its parent-drug, piracetam, and indicated that it was only one-tenth the potency of aniracetam. 
Another study noted the beneficial cognitive effects of aniracetam in relation to fetal exposure to ethanol, or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), which is a condition in a child which has developed as a result of the mother’s alcohol consumption during pregnancy. As currently there are no known treatments for these conditions, aniracetam has proven as potentially effective.
One mouse model clinical trial has examined the effect of aniracetam on FAS. Namely, the mice exhibited behavioral abnormalities and cognitive disabilities due to previously ethanol-induced FAS. They were treated with aniracetam daily for ten days, and it was shown that aniracetam not only reversed cognitive impairments, but it also increased the number of mice that had improved learning abilities and memory function. 
Given that aniracetam modulates dopamine and serotonin, as well as acetylcholine, it will no doubt have an effect on your overall mood. One animal study suggested that it had a positive effect on emotional disturbances post-stroke.  Another one concluded that aniracetam was anxiolytic, meaning that it has the ability to reduce anxiety.
In the trial, the researchers examined its effects on different types of anxiety, like social anxiety. It was compared with other common anti-anxiety medications, and it was observed that aniracetam possessed “a wide range of anxiolytic properties, which may be mediated by an interaction between cholinergic, dopaminergic and serotonergic systems.”
They also pointed towards the “potential usefulness of aniracetam against various types of anxiety-related disorders and social failure/impairments.” 
In addition, aniracetam appears to also have some antidepressant properties. A rodent study with young and old mice measured the effects of aniracetam on depression and they concluded aniracetam improved the depressive behavior in the aged mice. 
How Does Aniracetam Make You Feel?
Anecdotal evidence from users indicates that aniracetam makes them feel:
- Able to learn faster and better
- Feel more relaxed and sociable among people
- Able to retain more information
- Have a clearer head
- Feel more creative in general
- Feel more verbally fluent
- Able to think more holistically and see the whole picture
- Feel less prone to depressive mood
- Able to remain focused for a longer time
You can take aniracetam on its own, but you can also stack it for even more added benefits.
Aniracetam & CDP Choline
This is a great combination, especially given that aniracetam increases the levels of acetylcholine in the brain, and CDP choline converts into choline in the body, which, in turn, is used in the body to make acetylcholine. This is why these two supplements work well stacked together. The CDP Choline will boost aniracetam’s effect in your brain and give you double the benefits.
Aniracetam & Noopept
Noopept is similar to the racetam family, but it has a completely different mechanism of action, and it affects different neurotransmitters. Noopept is also a potent synthetic nootropic that boosts cognition, so if you stack these together, make sure you start small first and adjust your doses accordingly.
Aniracetam & Other Racetams
Stacking aniracetam with other racetams will prolong and enhance its effects. With this stack, it’s a good idea to also include a choline source so the effects would be more balanced. Before you stack racetams together, it’s better to try them out separately first, just so you can feel out their effects and see what works for you.
Also, always remember that when you take racetams together, or any synthetic nootropics in general, to take less than what you normally would, as their effects are synergistic and will be multiplied.
Aniracetam & Natural Nootropics
Natural nootropics like L-Theanine or Bacopa Monnieri are a great addition to aniracetam if you want to increase its mood-regulating effects and balance out the stimulation if you feel you’d like a more level effect.
L-Theanine is a compound found in green tea, and it boosts focus and mood while also keeping you calm and anxiety-free, and Bacopa Monnieri is a perennial herb with nootropic properties, and it aids memory and cognition while reducing stress.
Of course, you should start small and then build your doses up, if you need to.
Aniracetam Dosage, Safety & Side-Effects
Because it’s fat-soluble, aniracetam is best taken with a meal, or you can even take it with a fish oil supplement.
The total dosage should be between 1000-1500mg a day, and it’s best divided into two 500mg or 750mg doses twice a day. If you want to start smaller, doses as low as 400mg have shown to be effective. 
Aniracetam has a half-life of 2-3 hours, so make sure you spread your doses evenly and not take it close to bedtime, as it may cause overstimulation and insomnia.
When it comes to side effects, aniracetam is usually well-tolerated. Side-effects mostly arise from overuse, and they include headaches, nausea, insomnia, and restlessness. To avoid experiencing any side-effects, do not exceed recommended doses and start small first. Always monitor your body’s reactions closely and act accordingly.
Aniracetam can interact with some medications and cause some adverse reactions. These include anticoagulants, antidepressants, antihistamines, opiates, sedatives, and antipsychotics.  Of course, if you’re taking any medication on a daily basis, it’s best to do your research or consult your physician before taking aniracetam, if you’re not sure about the contraindications.
Aniracetam seems to be a great addition to your nootropic collection. However, even though there are numerous studies demonstrating its positive benefits on brain health, cognitive processes, and mood, more human trials are needed for this evidence to solidify.
Of course, anecdotal evidence is just as important, and it’s apparent that thousands of people use this nootropic as part of their daily routine and swear by its benefits.
If you want to give it a go, make sure you follow the instructions, start small, and monitor your reactions. We recommend you first take aniracetam on its own and then start stacking if you want to.
If you need some help with deciding on the right nootropic for your unique needs, or if you’re looking to try something different than your normal go-tos, you can take our brain assessment quiz and get some fun recommendations.