Oxiracetam, a nootropic in the racetam family just like Piracetam and Aniracetam, is a favorite among many users because of its ease of use. For professionals, students and entrepreneurs, it is incredibly effective in enhancing memory recall, mental energy, attention span and clarity of thoughts. The most outstanding feature is that it has a long biological half-life of up to 8 hours and an onset of action of 30 to 90 minutes. That means that it enhances productivity for an extended period, and increases the motivation to complete demanding tasks, what is known as task saliency.
How Does Oxiracetam Work?
Although the mechanism of action of Oxiracetam is not very clear, it is believed that it primarily functions by modulating the effect of two key neurotransmitters- glutamate and acetylcholine. (1) For acetylcholine, Oxiracetam increases its release and utilization in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus parts of the brain. When activated, acetylcholine signals learning and memory formation, regulates the sleep cycle, engages sensory functions upon waking, improves concentration and together with dopamine, regulate the brain reward system. (2)
For glutamate, Oxiracetam increases the activity of AMPA and NMDA receptors, which are subtypes of glutamate receptors. (3) Glutamate, the most abundant neurotransmitter in the nervous system, sends signals to the brain and throughout the body. Under normal circumstances, glutamate plays a vital role in learning and memory.
In comparison to other racetams, Oxiracetam does not act on serotonin or dopamine levels in the brain, like Aniracetam. That makes Oxiracetam a true or pure nootropic as it can only be used for cognitive enhancement. When compared to Piracetam, Oxiracetam is several times more potent. (4)
What Are the Benefits of Oxiracetam?
1. Improves Sensory Perception
Oxiracetam is known to enhance the function of both hemispheres, by improving cerebral blood flow, especially to the left side. (5) The left brain region is well known for its responsibility in performing functions that have to do with logic such as Science and Mathematics, but it also plays a role in the sensory perception of the right side of the body. (6) After taking Oxiracetam, the brain is able to quickly organize, identify and interpret what we see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Sounds appear deeper, colors have better contrast, and scents are sharper.
Extra sensory perception is necessary for enabling one to stay calm in amidst of chaos by allowing sharper focus. It becomes easy to connect different stimulus in order to reach quick decisions. Moreover, by expanding the range of perception to the external factors, one also becomes more aware of signals from the inner self. That means that sensing with the mind or what is known as the sixth sense gets stronger and more valuable.
2. Increases Focus & Concentration
The ability to fully concentrate on an executive function may not be easy when a lot of stuff occupies the mind, but then, it is a must for optimal mental performance. External distractions cannot always be eliminated, but there are ways that we can change the way the brain reacts to them. That is where nootropics come in handy- they defuse distractors and give the brain the mental boost that it needs to concentrate on important matters at hand.
Taking Oxiracetam makes the mind stick to a task for an extended period without losing interest or attention. Just like most other nootropics, Oxiracetam stimulates the anterior cingulated part of the brain that controls attention. (7) This section of the brain is found in the medial portion of the two cerebral hemispheres, and it specializes in assigning emotions to external stimuli. It also the part that is recruited when there is a task that requires externally-focused attention. (8)
3. Increases Memory
Besides improving the speed of processing information in the brain, Oxiracetam is also helpful in enhancing memory formation. (9) For high-performance individuals, the brain simmers with plenty of activities- from setting goals to smashing them. In such situations, the neurons are responsible for different thoughts and perceptions, while drifting in and out of actions. Sometimes, all that activity may not be recalled with ease, and yet, those are the moments that one needs quick reactivation of specific neurons to make critical decisions. The speed of reactivation depends on the strength of existing synapses. Research studies have shown that Oxiracetam induces long-term synaptic potentiation. (10)
Oxiracetam also boosts memory by ameliorating neuronal damage, influencing energy metabolism in the brain, increasing cerebral blood flow and preventing astrocyte activation. (11) The human brain utilizes more than 20% of the oxygen supplied to the body. That means if there is no proper blood flow, the neurons are deprived of oxygen and glucose. Furthermore, due to the many metabolic processes in the brain, the neurons are prone to oxidative damage caused by the byproducts. (12) Oxiracetam counters all these effects through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
All these actions combined preserve healthy neurons, promote brain plasticity and avail neurotransmitters responsible for memory formation, retention, and recall. This makes Oxiracetam a very useful supplement for studying subjects and performing assignments that require logical thinking.
4. Improves Mood
Other than stimulating acetylcholine and glutamate levels, Oxiracetam also has some influence on GABA, the chief inhibitory transmitter in the brain. However, the way in which it increases the levels of GABA is so different from its action on acetylcholine and glutamate. Instead of binding and activating GABA receptors, it acts as a cyclic derivative of gamma-aminobutyric acid. (13) Drugs such as benzodiazepines work in this same way to enhance the effects of GABA. (14)
GABA is a critical neurotransmitter that has inhibitory effects on excited neurons. When neurons are overexcited, they can cause anxiety, depression and even insomnia. GABA restores a balance, counteracting the symptoms of a cheerless mood. Not only does it promote a positive mood, but also improves focus and relaxation.
5. Increases Alertness
Oxiracetam has mild stimulant effects which increase mental energy levels and the stamina to complete mentally demanding tasks. These effects are due to the cholinergic effects of Oxiracetam, which activates the thalamocortical projection, promoting wakefulness and the arousal state. (15) This is why people experience better sustained levels of alertness with Oxiracetam as compared to caffeine or amphetamine stimulants.
A second way in which Oxiracetam increases alertness is by improving blood flow to the brain and enhancing energy metabolism in brain cells. (16) In the adult brain, neurons have the highest demand for glucose, as it is required as a precursor for most neurotransmitters and to fuel all signaling actions. By increasing ATP concentration and cerebral blood flow, Oxiracetam increases neuronal firing and quick cognitive processing.
Given its long half-life of about eight hours and stimulatory effects, one may think that oxiracetam impairs sleep quality. However, that is not the case. By facilitating acetylcholine neurotransmission, it enhances the brain stimulus barrier which then improves sleep latency despite interruptions. Nevertheless, it should not be taken too close to bedtime as it can delay the onset of the slow wave sleep.
Suggested Dosage, Synergies & Administration of Oxiracetam
Generally, the recommended dose ranges between 800mg and 2400mg per day. (17) For a beginner, starting with the lower doses is always recommended. Oxiracetam has a half-life of 6 to 8 hours, meaning that it should be taken in regular intervals throughout the day. The first dose can be taken in the morning, at noon and finally in the afternoon (at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime). Sticking to such a routine ensures steady cognitive development and enhancement. If one is not adhering to a routine, it can be taken 1 to 3 hours before a learning or demanding activity.
Oxiracetam is water-soluble and is thus relatively easy to consume without necessarily taking it along with a meal. It can be taken as a tablet or a powder that is dissolved in water, smoothie, or a healthy beverage of choice. When taken orally, Oxiracetam is well absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract with a bioavailability of 56 to 80%. The cognitive effects are seen within 30 to 90 minutes. (18)
If the recommended doses are exceeded, some side effects may be noted, headaches being the most common. Others include dizziness, nausea, nervousness, and insomnia. However, these effects may also be seen in people who stick to the right doses and schedule. Usually, the effects are mild and fade away with continued use.
To improve its effects, Oxiracetam can be taken with several other nootropics, the first choice being other racetams. Taking alpha GPC and choline also synergizes its impact while at the same time eliminating potential headaches. Choline adds to the levels of acetylcholine, which is a key step in the action of Oxiracetam.
History and Origin of Oxiracetam
Oxiracetam was developed in the 1970s but was originally introduced in 1988 by an Italian pharmaceutical company. It was the third nootropic to be created in the racetam family after Piracetam and Aniracetam. In 1990, the first scientific study of the nootropic was published. That study opened the gateway for many other researches and clinical trials that focused on its cognitive enhancement capability and even in the treatment of cognitive decline disorders. Most of the studies so far have established that Oxiracetam can be taken for an extended period in high does with no long-term adverse effects.
Although Oxiracetam it is used purely as a dietary supplement in the US, it is used clinically in countries such as Italy, Malaysia, and South Korea.
Final Thoughts on Oxiracetam
Oxiracetam is a potent, safe, and highly effective nootropic. Not only can it improve learning ability, memory, attention, and sociability, but it is also neuroprotective and a mild stimulant. Here is a summary of everything about this true cognitive booster.
- It is one of the nootropics found in the racetams family
- The mechanism of action of Oxiracetam is not clear, but studies suggest that it mainly works by affecting the levels of glutamate and acetylcholine. It also improves the levels of GABA by acting as its cyclic derivative.
- Oxiracetam differs from Aniracetam in that it does not act on serotonin and dopamine.
- When compared to Piracetam, the first nootropic in the racetams family, Oxiracetam is five times more potent.
- It improves sensory perception by enhancing cerebral blood flow, especially to the left hemisphere.
- It boosts memory by increasing the level of neurotransmitters concerned with learning and memory, raising energy and oxygen levels in the brain and preventing neuron damage.
- By affecting the levels of GABA, Oxiracetam contributes to promoting a positive mood, relaxation, and focus.
- Oxiracetam also acts as a mild stimulant that activates the thalamocortical projection, which is responsible for stimulating mental arousal and alertness.
- Optimum doses range from 800 to 2400mg divided into two to three doses per day.
- Side effects of taking Oxiracetam though rare, include dizziness, nausea, nervousness, and insomnia.