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Pramiracetam benefits and side effects

Pramiracetam is a drug belonging to the racetam family of cognitive enhancers that is taken to improve long-term memory formation and to boost brain function.

Benefits

Pramiracetam is synthesized from piracetam — the original racetam that is known to have anti-amnesiac potential in rats. In comparison to other racetams, pramiracetam has not been well researched but is shown in early studies to have some efficacy in humans.

While the mechanisms of action are not clearly understood, there are several theories. Pramiracetam is believed to increase the rate of choline uptake (a precursor for the biosynthesis of acetylcholine). Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in attention, recall and memory formation.

It also appears to alter EEG activity in all tested rats (young and old). An EEG (electroencephalogram) detects abnormalities in brain waves, or the electrical activity of the brain. Among other things, an EEG may also be used to diagnose disorders that influence brain activity, such as Alzheimer’s disease (1).

Pramiracetam has been noted to restore the alterations in EEG function of aged rats to that seen in youthful rats in the 5-20mg/kg dosage range.

Pramiracetam has been shown to increase nitric oxide production in the brain; nitric oxide is a compound that is known to play a role in memory and learning ability (2).

Similar to piracetam and other racetams, pramiracetam seems dependent on the adrenal glands. In a study of rats, racetams, including pramiracetam, lost their effect on increasing memory after the animals had their adrenal glands removed.

Inhibition of adrenal hormone production also suppressed the memory-improving effects of pramiracetam in mice.

Pramiracetam may improve memory. In one placebo-controlled study, researchers found that 400 mg pramiracetam sulphate taken three times a day improved measures of memory — especially delayed recall — compared to placebo. The study was performed in young males with memory and cognitive problems resulting from a head injury and anoxia (lack of oxygen to the brain).

This improvement was maintained during an 18-month open-trial period on the medication as well as during a 1-month follow-up period after the pramiracetam was discontinued (3).

In another study, data collected indicates that pramiracetam can enhance some aspects of spatial learning and memory in the rats. Two doses of pramiracetam (7.5 mg/kg and 15 mg/kg) were administered daily prior to testing for 7 weeks. This procedure permitted a distinction between working memory (short-term) and reference memory (long-term).

Both doses significantly improved performance in the reference memory component of the task, but did not significantly affect the working memory component (4).

Researchers in another trial found that doses of 30 mg/kg of pramiracetam improved object-recognition memory in rats (5). In an open-label study in healthy elderly participants suffering from memory complaints, pramiracetam was able to effectively increase objective memory gains compared to both control and memory training once weekly without pramiracetam; combination of pramiracetam and memory training was most effective (6).

When it comes to pramiracetam’s ability to treat Alzheimer’s, however, early studies report that supplementation does not improve symptoms of this disease.

In one study, it was concluded that even at high doses of up to 4,000 mg, it is unlikely to be a benefit to Alzheimer’s disease patients (7). Further studies are warranted.

Pramiracetam may improve memory decline due to a lack of blood flow to the brain. Chronic cerebral blood insufficiency and stroke are conditions which may lead to different types of memory deterioration and memory decline.

In one study, supplementation with pramiracetam improved memory decline in patients with chronic cerebrovascular insufficiency.

Pramiracetam may help treat amnesia. Amnesia is a type of memory loss characterized by trouble learning new information and forming new memories. Amnesia is not the same as dementia; while dementia includes memory loss, it also involves other significant cognitive problems that lead to a decline in daily functioning (8).

There have been several studies testing pramiracetam’s efficacy in treating amnesia.

In a study of 24 healthy men (18-42 and 55-65 years old), researchers pretreated volunteers with supplementation of pramiracetam (600 mg twice a day) for 10 days, and injected scopolamine hydrobromide (used to temporarily replicate amnesia) into the volunteers on day 11. Supplementation had an anti-amnesic effect in both young and older participants. (9).

In another study, pramiracetam reversed memory loss in mice caused by electric shock (10).

Pramiracetam may improve symptoms of a concussion. In a Russian study, 65 participants with mild craniocerebral trauma (concussion) were observed. Tests were carried out on the first, tenth and thirtieth day of the treatment. Participants receiving  pramiracetam noted considerable improvement of headache, dizziness and nausea (11).

Side effects

According to the results of a study published in an issue of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, pramiracetam demonstrated a wide margin of safety in animals and was well tolerated in healthy human volunteers (12).

In another study, no significant side effects were observed at any dose level tested (single 400, 800, 1,200 and 1,600 mg). 13

In a study of pramiracetam and other structurally related nootropics, researchers reported very low toxicity (14).

It is important to note, that many of the studies have been performed on animals; more human studies are needed to better understand if and what side effects are associated with use.

Recommended dosage

Based on current available studies, it appears that 1,200mg of pramiracetam daily (divided into two 600 mg doses or three 400 mg doses) is effective.

More human studies and trials are needed before a definitive recommended dosage can be suggested.

Pramiracetam is available in powder or tablet form. The powder form has a strong unpleasant taste; many users prefer to take the tablet form instead.

Recap

Pramiracetam is a drug belonging to the racetam family that is believed to improve long-term memory formation and boost brain function. Pramiracetam is synthesized from piracetam — the original racetam that is known to have anti-amnesiac potential in animals.

Early studies show its efficacy in treating memory and cognitive problems, especially in those with brain injuries. When looking at animal evidence, supplementation of pramiracetam has improved object-recognition memory and long-term memory formation in rats, but does not have an effect on working memory.

Pramiracetam may also help prevent and treat amnesia and help relieve symptoms of craniocerebral trauma such as concussions.

 

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Author: Laura Magnifico