Science behind Racetams
Having established that nootropics can enhance normal cognitive behavior and assuage certain medical conditions, it’s time to move on from the studies and take a look at the science behind nootropics, specifically the “tams”.
The tams are the most extensively researched of the nootropics, where the term nootropic originates from the effects piracetams’ mechanisms have in enhancing neural function.
This – piracetam – and its derivatives achieve through two means:
Note: Whilst this is the prominent view of piracetams’ effects, if this is true it’s likely to hold more of a purpose for aged brains as opposed to younger ones.
1. Increasing Membrane Fluidity
Being the main neurotransmitter that instructs excitement in the central nervous system, L-Glutamate works through two types of receptors.
- Iontropic – Ligand gated ion receptors
- Metabotopic – G-protein coupled receptors
Both iontropic and metabotopic receptors are the glutamate highways, allowing this neurotransmitter to affect cell excitability.
Glutamate then binds to the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor or NMDA and the A-amino-3-Hydroxy-5-Methyl-4-Isoxazolepropionic acid receptor, also known as AMPA receptor, importantly activating them both, which causes positively charged ions to flow through the cell membrane.
Piracetams’ sister aniracetam actually led to this discovery, which has spawned the development of a new set of smart drugs known as ampakines.
Where’s all this leading to you may ask?
Well not all but some of the tams perform similar results as the new ampakines do – potentially enhancing alertness and attention span, notably piracetam and phenylpiracetam.
2. Increasing Mitochondrial Function
The past two to three decades of collated data strongly indicate that piracetam and its siblings play a significant role in the cholinergic functioning within the central nervous system – CNS.
The cholinergic receptors contain a molecular structure that responds to acetylcholine – a neurotransmitter.
Acetylcholine is produced by neurons and is referred to as a cholinergic neuron that is related to motor and memory functions.
Cholinergic receptors fall into two departments of receptors that are linked to the activity of acetylcholine:
1. Nicotinic receptors
These are neuron receptor proteins that respond to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.
2. Muscarinic receptors
Differing from nicotinic receptors, muscarinic receptors are responsible for detrusor smooth muscle contraction or the process of urination. Muscarine is also an alkaloid derived from certain toxic mushrooms.
These two cholinergic receptors respond to acetylcholine activity that influences our ability to preserve memory and ability to focus.
Where do the tams fit in you may ask?
Research indicates that cholinergic agents such as choline and DMAE combined with piracetam can protect you from anticholinergic drugs – drugs that can destroy acetylcholine, in this instance your muscarinic receptors.
Therefore the use of cholinergic agents may well have a significant impact on both cholinergic function and memory enhancement.
By facilitating the activity of AMPA receptors, Aniracetam is considered the grand-daddy of ampakines and has served as a model for the many newer and more powerful AMPA modulators.
Aniracetam does have its shortcomings though as it has a rather short half-life of roughly 2 to 3hours an is almost entirely metabolized when taken orally which reduces its original strength.
However, while aniracetam’s cognitive enhancing effects aren’t well documented and remain unproven, on a reddit/nootropics for beginners thread, aniracetam is described to specifically propagate unique mood enhancing effects and is fairly well tolerated.
The science remains unclear but if you are to go by several decades of accumulated research and multiple thousands of online nootropic reviews, introducing these types of nootropics that interact with glutamate and cholinergic receptors, it seems you can:
Piracetams are just a small part of the nootropic market, however when deciding what is right for you in terms of what part of you you want to improve – this is solely down to you.
For example – as it stands, a condensed version of those which have a history of safe use most probably looks like this for 2016:
L-theanine with caffeine for focus and attention
Bacopa monnieri for memory
Creatine for reasoning
Ashwaganda anxiety mitigation