Is Piracetam Legal and Does it Work?

3 Phases of Trauma and 5 Ways to Work Through It_What happens in your body when you’ve been traumatized


  • Piracetam, a medication in the racetams family, is an effective nootropic (aka cognitive enhancer) that isn’t approved for use in the US, but that’s more of a technicality than a safety issue.
  • Research shows piracetam shows promise as a smart drug. Piracetam’s potential benefits include neuroprotection after surgery and trauma, treatment for epilepsy, to slow neurodegeneration, and more.
  • While more studies are necessary to fully understand the effects of piracetam, what we know about it so far make it worth paying attention to.


Not many people know that the term nootropic dates back to more than 50 years ago to 1964, when the research scientist who created the drug piracetam needed a word to describe pharmaceuticals that make you smarter.

I’ve used piracetam, or one of its sister compounds, almost every day for two decades, and it’s so powerful that I have my parents taking it. I found out about it from Steve Fowkes, Bulletproof Radio guest and research biochemist who ran the first newsletter on smart drugs starting in the 1980s.

It’s still not FDA-approved in the US even though it’s prescribed in Europe, but it’s widely available here… just not from your average doctor.

Age your brain in reverse. Learn how in my new book Super Human, available now!

Does piracetam work as a cognitive enhancer?

Woman working at table with laptop and notebookWhen I first used it, I thought it didn’t work. That’s because I didn’t know how to use it, but I stumbled on a pattern that worked and realized it was easier to feel the difference when you stopped it instead of when you start taking it…and it takes a couple weeks to kick in.

Here’s what the science says so far.

Piracetam for cognitive decline with aging

When elderly rats received long-term piracetam treatment, learning improved and membrane fluidity substantially increased. This suggests that part of the benefit lies in its ability to reverse the loss in membrane fluidity that happens as part of the aging process.[ref url=”″]

Human studies showed similar effects. Piracetam measurably improved measures of cognitive ability in a diverse group of older subjects with cognitive impairment.[ref url=”″]

Piracetam shows protective effects after surgery and shock

Everything you need to know about the worlds first nootropic Piracetam_shows protective effects after surgery and shockOpen-heart surgery comes with the risk of neurological damage and stroke.[ref url=””] Piracetam shows promise as a neuroprotective agent for patients having cardiac bypass surgery.[ref url=”″] In another study, six weeks of piracetam after coronary artery bypass grafting improved cognition.[ref url=””]

A month of piracetam improved memory problems and slowed nerve damage in rats after hypoperfusion (shock). This shows potential as a treatment for cerebrovascular dementia, because it operates on similar mechanisms.[ref url=””]

Piracetam could lessen the negative neurological effects of stroke and trauma

Everything you need to know about the worlds first nootropic Piracetam_could lessen the negative neurological effects of stroke and traumaAdministering piracetam within seven hours of ischemic stroke had a measurable benefit.[ref url=””] It also helped partially restore writing abilities in stroke patients who lost their language capacity, which shows promise for future research in restoring language.[ref url=”″]

Eight weeks of 4800mg of piracetam treatment reduced post-concussion patients’ symptoms including vertigo, headache, tiredness, decreased alertness, sweating and irritability.[ref url=”″]

Piracetam may reduce the severity of epilepsy

Research shows piracetam as part of a full treatment protocol is effective long-term for certain forms of epilepsy. The effects increased over the course of a year then stabilized, and effective dose may take some time to pinpoint as it is highly individual.[ref url=””]

Piracetam and neurodegenerative disorders

Research showed measurable benefit to treating early mild stages of Parkinson’s with piracetam.[ref url=”″]

Long-term, high-dose piracetam slowed cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients. Effects were strongest in recall and memory.[ref url=””] A few weeks of treatment with piracetam demonstrated cognitive-enhancing effects, which could translate to an effective Alzheimer’s treatment.

The effects of piracetam were greatest in patients with cognitive decline who were also depressed, which is quite common, as depression often precedes diagnosis of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.[ref url=”″]

Is piracetam legal?

Computerized Brain Training Is THIS Good for Your Dog_dog with owner on tabletThe government didn’t exactly ban piracetam.

Here’s how it works. To legally sell something for human consumption, a substance must be a food, a drug, or a supplement.

As it is, piracetam isn’t an approved drug. So, you then look at whether or not they will consider it a food.

The food category is further broken down into two sub-categories: foods and dietary supplements. Since piracetam doesn’t meet the requirements to be classified as a food, it would have to be accepted as a dietary supplement.

In order to be classified as a supplement, it would have to augment the diet and contain one or more of the following:

  • Vitamin
  • Mineral
  • Herb or botanical
  • Amino acid
  • A substance that increases total dietary intake of a nutrient
  • A derivative of any of the above

Piracetam does not contain any of those, which leaves one possible avenue for FDA approval — it could be considered a food additive. In order for the government to accept it as a food additive, it has to be Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS), which requires testing.

So, it’s not that anyone decided piracetam is unsafe. It’s just that it hasn’t been tested and it doesn’t fit neatly into any of the required categories. So, if someone tries to sell piracetam for human consumption, they could get an angry letter from the regulatory agencies.

Some retailers work around the red tape by selling piracetam “for scientific research purposes only, not for human consumption.”

Almost 20 years ago when I was fat and tired and my brain didn’t work, I bought $1,000 worth of smart drugs from Europe, took them all at once, and got enough cognitive function to start working on fixing my life. Learn from my mistakes. You can fix your brain and body from the inside out, starting with food and how you live your life.

Nootropics make an impact, but you’ll get the best cognitive boost from cleaning up your raw material. Get rid of the things in your diet and life that tank your cognitive performance before you try anything else. Once you do that, you might decide that you’re clearer than you’ve ever been and operating on all cylinders. Or, you’ll notice specific things that you want to focus on. From there, you can target nootropics to your specific concerns.





Not Harder

Smarter Not Harder: The Biohacker’s Guide to Getting the Body and Mind You Want is about helping you to become the best version of yourself by embracing laziness while increasing your energy and optimizing your biology.

If you want to lose weight, increase your energy, or sharpen your mind, there are shelves of books offering myriad styles of advice. If you want to build up your strength and cardio fitness, there are plenty of gyms and trainers ready to offer you their guidance. What all of these resources have in common is they offer you a bad deal: a lot of effort for a little payoff. Dave Asprey has found a better way.

Also Available


Start hacking your way to better than standard performance and results.

Receive weekly biohacking tips and tech by becoming a Dave Asprey insider.

By sharing your email, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy