What is Oxiracetam?
Oxiracetam (CT-848; 4-Hydroxy-2-oxo-1-pyrrolidineacetamide; hydroxypiracetam) is another member of the nootropic racetam compound family. It was introduced in 1988 and has been sold under the trademarked names Neuractiv, Neuromet, and Senex. Oxiracetam is the first analog that was synthesized from piracetam, the original nootropic. However, it is more potent and much smaller doses are necessary to achieve similar effects. In fact, it is purported to be the fastest-acting, most potent racetam.
How does it work?
There is ample evidence that oxiracetam affects a number of processes in the brain. Specifically, it impacts neurotransmission in several different ways. Perhaps most importantly, it facilitates a molecular event called long-term potentiation (LTP), which is critical for learning and memory. Essentially LTP is a period where neurons continue to be highly active after a new experience or gaining new knowledge. LTP is primarily studied in the hippocampus – the part of the brain that is ravaged by Alzheimer’s disease. The effect of oxiracetam on LTP suggests that it facilitates glutamate neurotransmission, either directly or indirectly.
Oxiracetam also increases the uptake of choline into neurons. In addition to increasing neuronal levels of choline (the precursor for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine), it enhances acetylcholine production by increasing activity of the enzyme choline acetyl transferase. This has the net effect of improving connections between neurons because acetylcholine is more available in the brain.
This versatile compound has also been demonstrated to affect lipid metabolism. This is important, because all cell membranes are composed of a double layer of lipids. Moreover, specific lipid types contribute to cellular integrity and function. The brain is especially lipid-rich. Long-term use of oxiracetam sees to affect the turnover rate of phospholipids, and the net effect is that they are more abundant, especially in the important brain areas of the hippocampus and neocortex.
Although some clinical studies suggested that it significantly improves short-term memory and anxiety associated with mild Alzheimer’s disease, others did not see improvements in dementia patients. While oxiracetam has been disappointing for treating Alzheimer’s, studies suggest that it can improve cognition and brain function in healthy adults.
Many human studies have reported benefits after long-term use (1-6 months). These include improved performance on logic tests, enhanced attention, better concentration, and greater memory retention. Anecdotal reports from people who have taken it regularly suggest that oxiracetam improves alertness and general mood. Response time may also increase. Studies in mice and rats support such anecdotal evidence.
Oxiracetam Side Effects
In keeping with the excellent safety profile of the racetam compounds, oxiracetam is well tolerated and has no serious side effects, even with long-term use. However, insomnia and mild stomach pain have been reported. People with renal insufficiency (kidney disorders) may experience more severe side effects, because oxiracetam is eliminated from the body by the kidneys (rather than the liver).
Oxiracetam is more potent than piracetam and is most often sold in 800 mg capsules, which are usually taken once or twice a day (morning and afternoon). Alternatively, it can be found in powder form, which is often mixed with protein shakes or smoothies. The optimum dose seems to be between 1200-2400 mg. per day, depending on individual metabolism. Oxiracetam is well absorbed, with approximately 68-82% of the dose making it into systemic circulation. Because it is water-soluble and not lipid-soluble, less than 5% of the dose crosses the blood-brain-barrier, where it can affect the central nervous system and cognition. The compound level peaks within 1-3 hours after administration, and the half-life is approximately 3-6 hours (longer in patients with kidney problems, who may want to reduce their dosages).
Like other racetams, some of the effects of oxiracetam are dependent on the compound’s impact on acetylcholine transmission. Therefore, many people take choline precursor supplements in tandem with their oxiracetam capsules/powder.
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