On Racetams and Nootropics: Notes from Phil Micans’s Interview on Smart Drug Smarts

These are my notes from Smart Drug Smarts Podcast #10 with Phil Micans. Micans has a Master’s degree in biochemistry and is also a pharmacist. The man knows his racetams.

Now you will as well.

1. What does nootropic mean?

According to Micans:

Nous means ‘reasoning’

“but is beyond the concept of logic and interpretation. It’s more as Plato would have used it…it means the understanding, if you will, of both the forest and the trees simultaneously”

–Phil Micans

And “tropos” means to bend or turn. Or manner or style.

I like to liberally interpret the definition of nootropic as “the Tao of grokking and exploring the mind.”

2. To be a Nootropic, a compound must meet 5 criteria

These 5 criteria are according to Dr. Corneliu E. Giurgea, the guy who created Piracetam and the term “nootropic:”

  1. Enhance learning
  2. Facilitate interhemispherial flow in the brain
  3. Allows brain to resist physical and chemical injury
  4. Increase efficacy of cortical and sub-cortical mechanisms
  5. Absence of negative effects

3. What are Racetams?

Racetams are cyclic GABA (the body’s main inhibitory neurotransmitter) derivitives that tend to be nootropics.

Mechanisms of action are still not clearly understood and appear to be numerous. For instance, piracetam and aniracetam are ampakines, compounds known for enhancing learning, memory, alertness, and attention span.

Racetams also act on glutamate receptors (the brain’s primary excitatory neurotransmitter) and appear to help increase our memory similar to the action of acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (like Huperzine A).

4. How safe are they?

“Racetams as a pharmacological class enjoy a very high safety limit with extremely low toxicity”

He also mentioned that the LD50 of piracetam is >700 grams. That number was calculated from the fact that 8g/kg failed to result in death for rats. Salt’s LD50 is 1g/kg for humans and 3g/kg for rats1.

Piracetam is safer than salt from a lethality standpoint. Micans also says there have been no birth defects from it.

5. What about side effects?

“Very limited and not really serious at all:”

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Heightened sensations
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Overstimulation

He mentions that reported side effects are linked to taking too much or combining them [racetams] with another drug.

And interestingly,

“[there is] Some evidence that side effects only present themselves if the patient has a magnesium deficiency”

6. Things that synergize with racetams

“I would suggest that if you wanted to make a racetam program syngeristic, then something like choline, lecithin, DMAE, or centrophenoxin better still, taken in combination can often enhance the effects. So yes taking choline with a racetam can often make an improvement”

I’d caution against choline slightly because it has been somewhat associated with depression. I recommend using acetyl-L-carnitine as an indirect route to support your body’s choline production.

Also, Centrophenoxin gives you faster recall he says.

7. What do Racetams actually do and what are their benefits?

“[the] Primary method of action is considered to be electrical stimulation and improvement of communication of the corpus callosum [and]

As the racetams enhance the interhemispherial communication across the corpus callosum then ideas become more frequent and they are turned into action reality”


“Racetams have 6 areas, if you look at the clinical studies, where they benefit:”

  1. Enhance brain metabolism
  2. Increase ATP
  3. Enhance phospholipid and protein synthesis
  4. Improve oxygen and glucose uptake
  5. Potentially act on neurotransmitters (particularly Acetylcholine and [another one but it was indecipherable to me, sounded like dopamine])
  6. Little to no chemical change induced (possibly why side effects are mild)

8. How do I take them and in what dosages?

“You actually want to start high [dosage] and then bring the dose down later”

He recommends the good ol’ racetam attack dosage.

This is not medical advice. I’m no doctor. The FDA hasn’t approved anything on this page. See my medical disclaimer
Phil Micans’s recommended racetam dosages
Piracetam starting dosage might be: 2.4g to 4.8g daily
(break the total amount into at least 2 doses/day)

Oxiracetam: 800mg – 2.4g
(AM and PM dosages like above)

Aniracetam: 750mg – 1500mg
(fat soluble, could in theory take it in one daily dose if so desired according to Micans)

Pramiracetam: 300, 600, up to 900mg
(fat soluble)

Which one should I start with?

Micans advice is to start with piracetam. It has the best track record in terms of safety. Plus, it’s cheaper. His opinion is that you pick one of the racetams and that you don’t need to take them all. He instead recommends to take a synergistic agent.

9. When will I feel something?

A healthy person with just a desire to enhance thinking and mental abilities should see improvements within a month Micans says.

Till next time.

Thrive in freedom,

Ride on over to…
Nootropics Depot
…and you can get racetam capsules or powders at some of the cheapest prices you’ll find. Damn high quality as well.

Check out some of the Smart Drug Smarts Podcasts. I’ve listened to a couple and they are informative. For guys who read Mike’s blog over at DangerAndPlay.com, be sure to check out the beet juice podcast

[1] http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9924972