Phenylpiracetam is a cognitive-enhancing nootropic derived from piracetam, which is a member of the racetam family. Also commonly known as Phenotropil and Carphedon, phenylpiracetam was developed in the 1980’s in Russia and was given to Russian cosmonauts to boost their mental capacity and cognition, and boost endurance under stressful conditions. In recent years it has become one of the most popular nootropics on the market and in this review we’ll delve into phenylpiracetam and find out why.
What Is Phenylpiracetam?
Also known as:
Let’s take a step back and look briefly at piracetam then we can see why phenylpiracetam is different (and more potent).
Piracetam (also known as Nootropyl) is the original racetam class nootropic, created way back in 1964. It’s a synthetic substance meaning it does not occur naturally in any plant or animal form.
Sharing structural similarity to the neurotransmitter GABA piracetam has been used medicinally to assist patients with impaired cognitive function after brain injury and stroke. Piracetam has been able to improve memory and learning in these patients.
However, piracetam hasn’t shown the same brain boosting powers in healthy individuals and is of limited value as a smart drug, although it is often used as part of a nootropic stack where different agents enhance the effects of one another.
Phenylpiracetam differs from piracetam thanks to the addition of a phenyl group. This addition gave phenylpiracetam much better bioavailability than piracetam and made it 30 – 60 times more potent.
What is bioavailability? Bioavailability refers to the way that your body can make use of a substance. If your body can’t absorb a substance or can only absorb very small amounts, then the majority of your supplement will be excreted unused. So the bioavailability of a nootropic is a very important factor to consider.
Phenylpiracetam has 100% bioavailability (on an empty stomach) meaning that your body can use it all up and get some reportedly fantastic benefit as a result.
What kinds of benefits?
- Improved cognition in the form of increased learning ability and memory recall
- Better mood
- Enhanced physical performance
- Sharper focus and longer attention span
Originally given to Russian cosmonauts and military personnel, phenylpiracetam soon found its way into the athletic world where it was used a performance enhancer that flew under the radar for a while. This compound was added to the World Anti-Doping Agency list of banned substances.
The Russian State Pharmacological Committee approved phenylpiracetam in 2003 as a treatment for certain mental disorders and some types of cognitive impairment. In Russia, phenylpiracetam is a prescription only drug sold under the trade name Phenotropil. In Latvia the drug is marketed as Entrop.
Phenylpiracetam is considered to be a pretty good all rounder as far as nootropics go. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits that you could experience using this substance.
What Are The Benefits of Phenylpiracetam?
Phenylpiracetam may be beneficial for those affected by ADHD. Some studies have pointed to piracetam as being helpful to some people in the management of ADHD symptoms, and the more bioavailable and potent phenylpiracetam may be even more effective as its effects on focus are much more intense than the weaker racetam.
No direct studies have been conducted on phenylpiracetam and ADHD, but user reports seem to be positive in this regard. You could certainly investigate this aspect further if you suffer from ADHD and don’t want to take prescription medication.
Phenylpiracetam is thought to be a more effective neuroprotective agent than piracetam and is reported to slow the rate of age related cognitive decline. It’s also used medically in some countries as a treatment after stroke.
One study demonstrated improvements in physical and mental performance in stroke patients that took 400 mg of phenylpiracetam daily for one year.
Other symptoms that often accompany cognitive decline such as anxiety and depression were also reduced in subjects taking phenylpiracetam during trials.
In research conducted on animals, phenylpiracetam was shown to have immunostimulating properties and its thought (though unsupported by research at this time) that there may be some immune supportive benefit to taking phenylpiracetam during periods of immune stress.
The central nervous stimulating (and possible psychostimulatory) properties of phenylpiracetam lead users to expect to experience a pick me up effect when energy levels are low, and users do report this benefit. It should be stressed that this type of anecdotal report isn’t supported by any scientific data to date, so your mileage may vary. As with all nootropics, different people experience a wide variety of effects, from no noticeable benefits at all to very positive enhancements.
Users report strong effects on wakefulness and alertness when taking the recommended dose of phenylpiracetam. This effect has been likened to the rapid transition between experiencing deep sleep and then the wide awake, natural hyper energetic activity that occurs when you oversleep and have to rush around so you aren’t late for work. As such, comparisons are made between this drug and amphetamines, although phenylpiracetam has none of amphetamine associated nervousness and eventual crash.
Physical endurance and increased cold tolerance are proven benefits of phenylpiracetam and these attributes led to the substance being banned from use in sporting competitions.
Better learning ability and improved memory are both reported after taking phenylpiracetam. And both of these processes rely on one another to function optimally.
While learning is the cognitive process in which we acquire and process new information, memory needs to record both the learning process and store the new information.
Memory storage and the ability to later retrieve those memories requires several interlinked steps to function seamlessly, and if any of those steps is impaired, then the ability to form new memories and learn new things, and the ability to effectively recall information is compromised.
Cognitive enhancers improve all stages of the process – information uptake and storage and retrieval. Users report that phenylpiracetam enhances these cognitive processes, although research to date has only demonstrated this effect in older people experiencing organic (non traumatic brain injury) cognitive decline.
Method of Action
After taking phenylpiracetam its effects will be evident after about 1 hour. It’s absorbed quickly and easily through the gastrointestinal tract and once in the bloodstream is able to cross the blood brain barrier.
Phenylpiracetam is metabolized into 3-hydroxycarphedone and 4′-hydroxycarphedone, it has a half life of 3-5 hours and is excreted through urine (60%) sweat and bile.
A central nervous system stimulator, phenylpiracetam has a structural similarity to phenylethylamine which is a natural neurotransmitter.
Phenylpiracetam has significant effects on the cholinergic and glutamatergic systems, binding to acetylcholine and glutamate receptors. Phenylpiracetam is also thought to boost the levels of dopamine and noradrenaline in the brain which may account for its stimulating and mood elevating properties.
Additionally, phenylpiracetam is thought to stimulate D3-Dopamine receptors in the striatum and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the cortex as well as help modulate loco-motor activity in the brain.
As with other racetams the exact method of action is not well understood, although it is known that phenylpiracetam works primarily on glutamatergic AMPA receptors and can also increase the density of NDMA glutamate receptors in the part of the brain responsible for creating and storing memories, the hippocampus.
Phenylpiracetam appears to act on the nicotinic cholinergic receptors and may have a possible stimulatory effect on dopamine and norepinephrine levels which work collectively to improve learning and memory.
Nicotinic receptors have been identified as a vital component of memory formation, more specifically as the signaling pathway in the formation of contextual, spatial and working memory.
Contextual memory is activated whenever you attempt to recall the circumstances of a particular memory and the recalled version of this memory should be exactly the same as the memory that was first encoded.
But contextual memory isn’t consistently reliable because it doesn’t always work well and the longer the passage of time between memory encoding and memory recall, the more skewed the memory can be. Emotional stress present at the time of memory formation can also lead to incorrect later recall.
Weaknesses in contextual memory are one reason why eye witness accounts in criminal cases often become more unreliable as time passes even though the person bearing witness is absolutely convinced that they’re giving accurate information to investigators.
The longer memories sit before they are actively recalled, the higher the possibility that imagination will skew perception and build a memory that isn’t entirely accurate.
Phenylpiracetam may strengthen contextual memory and allow you to recall past events with greater clarity and accuracy.
Spatial memory deals with location and objects in space. A well functioning spatial memory allows you to find your way home through the city even when you can’t see your end destination.
Working memory allows for the temporary information processing and storage within the brain.
For example, you use working memory when you carry out calculations in your head, remember points or information in an article or book as you read them and build up a contextual picture of the information presented, or keep track of ingredients and steps in a recipe or other process.
Working memory lets you bring many strands together to establish the big picture and also to understand how all of those components work together.
Another type of memory that we depend on is episodic memory. This kind of memory is also called event memory and its a behavioral pattern established when dopamine neurons are affected by reward, punishment, or goal seeking behavior.
Episodic memory is a key factor in cognitive flexibility and gives us the ability to draw on past experiences and learn from them to make improvements in the future. It’s why we’re able to solve problems that we’ve never encountered before.
Cognitive flexibility is a crucial part of learning, not only in an academic setting but in our work and everyday lives. The more effective our cognitive flexibility, the sooner problems can be solved before they become a stressful burden.
Although Phenylpiracetam has stimulating properties, no direct effect on the respiratory system or cardiovascular system has been observed.
Phenylpiracetam Side Effects, Drawbacks and Safety
Like other racetams, phenylpiracetam can cause some common side effects. These include, headaches, nausea, irritability, mood swings, and gastrointestinal problems, and are more widely experienced at higher doses. To combat headaches it is recommended that you add a choline supplement like Alpha GPC to your stack.
Higher doses can also generate a diuretic effect (water loss).
Insomnia is another side effect experienced by some people because of the stimulating effects of phenylpiracetam, and this side effect was noted in one scientific trial. If you begin to suffer insomnia while taking phenylpiracetam you can easily remedy the problem by adjusting your dose or taking your dose earlier in the day. Phenylpiracetam has a relatively short half life and its effects will have worn off by the time you’re ready to go to bed.
A significant limitation of phenylpiracetam is the speed at which individuals build up tolerance to its effects. Because of this you really shouldn’t look to include phenylpiracetam in your daily nootropic regimen. Use it for short periods when you need its effects the most, then cycle off for a while to maintain your sensitivity to this nootropic
It should be noted that not all users experience this tolerance problem.
While phenylpiracetam isn’t considered to be addictive there are some reports of addiction, so it’s important to stress again, that you should cycle off the supplement and not increase your dose when effects begin to diminish. Taken as recommended phenylpiracetam has a low addiction profile and is very safe.
There are no reports of severe drug interactions or overdose with phenylpiracetam. However if you already take prescription drugs, particularly SSRIs or similar, you should check with your doctor before you use this smart drug.
Some individuals may be hypersensitive to phenylpiracetam, so it’s recommended that you begin with small doses.
Phenylpiracetam is known to reduce the body’s pain tolerance threshold so if you experience any forms of chronic pain you might want to think twice before using this drug.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not take this or any other nootropic substance.
In rare cases an allergic reaction may occur, in this case stop taking phenylpiracetam and seek medical advice.
Some users have reported heightened anger, aggressiveness and even suicidal thoughts when using this substance, which is something to consider, especially if you have any existing predispositions to those types of behavior.
The standard dose for phenylpiracetam is 100 – 200 mg taken up to 3 times a day for a maximum daily dose of 300 – 600 mg. The lower dose is known to be effective but the optimal dose is as yet unknown.
Users report noticeable improvements at the 100 mg dose level, so it’s advisable to begin with a dose of 100 mg per day and take things from there.
The majority of users take phenylpiracetam for few days one week, then cycle off for a week or two before taking it again.
You may prefer to take it only at specific times rather than as a regular supplement, electing to save its effects for challenging exams or projects at work when you need increased stamina, focus and sharp memory.
Where To Buy Phenylpiracetam
He legality of phenylpiracetam varies from country to country. In the United States, the substance is legal to buy and available without prescription from vendors including:
Nootropics Depot – available in both powder and capsule form, starting at $10.99 for 2.5 grams of powder and $16.99 for 30 x 100 mg capsules.
Peak Nootropics – available as a powder priced $43.99 for 10 grams.
New Star Nootropics – available as a powder priced at $8.95 for 1 gram.
(prices correct as of April 2017)
Phenylpiracetam has a very bitter taste so capsules are not only a more convenient way to take this nootropic, they’re also more pleasant.
If you do decide to purchase powder, you’ll need to make sure that you have an accurate digital scale that’s designed to measure small amounts.
The online nootropic community are generally very positive about phenylpiracetam and it’s considered to be one of the most potent nootropics currently available.
Although reports of benefits are mostly anecdotal in nature, phenylpiracetam is widely used for improvements in memory, reduction in anxiety and enhancements in attention span and focus.
In light of these benefits it’s seen as an ideal nootropic for students, business professionals and entrepreneurs who need an energy boost, extra motivation, and increased endurance for projects, presentations and exams.
It’s not all positive with phenylpiracetam though. The upsides come with the possibility headaches, nausea, mood swings and insomnia among other side effects.
Most importantly, there is the possibility that you could become addicted to the supplement if you don’t follow dosing guidelines and it can lead to aggressive and potentially destructive behavior in some individuals.
Phenylpiracetam is a banned substance in competitive sport, so you should keep this in mind if you compete at a level where testing for performance enhancing drugs is carried out.
As with all nootropics your individual response to phenylpiracetam will be unique and you should begin with a low dose and test its effects at that level before increasing the dose. You should also take it a singular substance at first and not as part of a nootropics stack.
Please note that no statements on this page have been approved by the FDA.