What is aniracetam and what is it used for?

As a general rule, one must be suspicious of any drug or substance that is promoted as a first-rate solution to improve cognitive function. This has happened with aniracetam.

Last update: August 29, 2021

Aniracetam is a compound developed in the 1970s by the Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche. It is defined as a nootropic, that is, as a substance capable of improving cognitive function.

It is important to note that there is no scientific evidence to support the properties of this drug. In fact, aniracetam is not approved by the Food and Drugs Administrarion (FDA), but it is marketed as a substance to improve mood, concentration and memory.

Aniracetam is approved in Europe. However, controversies persist about its efficacy and safety.

Effects and uses of aniracetam

It is important to emphasize that there is not enough evidence on the efficacy and safety of this medicine. That said, there are those who use aniracetam for conditions like the following.


A study carried out in the 1990s noted that a group of Alzheimer's disease patients showed improvement in their cognitive functions after being treated with aniracetam. Other research in people with dementia showed that treatment with this drug improved mood and prevented deterioration in cognitive function. Both this and the previous one very small and unrepresentative studies are considered.

The use of the drug for dementia and Alzheimer's disease does not have enough supporting evidence.

Sleep disorders

A study carried out with rats prone to stroke showed that aniracetam was able to restore the normal sleep cycle in these animals, after 5 days of treatment. There are no similar investigations in humans.


Other research conducted in aging rats with impaired brain function showed that aniracetam improved their mood. It has been suggested that this drug could increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine.


Aniracetam decreased anxiety in a group of mice, according to an investigation into the matter. It made them more sociable and they improved their performance on associated tests. There are no human studies.

Brain damage

Thanks to a study it was detected that aniracetam reversed the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome in young rats. It also corrected some behaviors in rats with a lack of blood flow to the brain. There are no similar studies in humans.

Memory and focus

Another study with rats found that aniracetam reversed memory loss in older animals. It also increased this capacity in cases of memory loss due to lack of sleep. Likewise, it raised the attention and reduced the distracted behavior.

How does aniracetam work?

Science ignores the complete mechanism of operation of this drug. However, based on cell and animal studies, its action is believed to be due to the following:

  • The union between aniracetam and receptors called AMPA causes the release of norepinephrine.
  • Prolonged exposure of AMPA receptors to glutamate (an amino acid that facilitates communication between neurons) makes them less responsive to neurotransmitters. Aniracetam slows down that desensitization.
  • The drug also binds to other receptors called kainate receptors. This leads to the effect of glutamate is increased.
  • Aniracetam increases the transmission of acetylcholine in the brain. This is a neurotransmitter. Medications that have this property are called cholinergics.
  • The drug reduces dopamine levels in the hypothalamus and the striatum, two areas of the brain. At the same time, it increases the levels of serotonin in the cortex and the striatum and also decreases them in the hypothalamus.

Possible side effects of aniracetam

Very little is known about the side effects of this drug.. Available data suggest that it is well tolerated for up to one year, but its long-term impact is unknown.

In general, the known effects are mild and include the following:

  • Headache.
  • Anxiety and irritability.
  • Insomnia.
  • Nausea and diarrhea.

On the other hand, all drugs in this group could have anticoagulant effects. This makes them risky for those who already take medications with this mechanism. Also, it can interact with anticonvulsants, antihistamines, antidepressants, anesthetics, and opiates.

Dosage and recommendations

There is no safe dose of this drug, due to the limitations that have already been exposed. Aniracetam is usually sold in 750-milligram capsules. It is also purchased in powder form or as a component of a supplement.

It has been suggested that a dose of up to 1,500 milligrams a day could be considered safe. In most of the studies, 25 to 100 milligrams per day per kilogram of weight have been used.

The dose indicated on the product label should never be increased.. Noticeable fatigue, headache, fuzzy thoughts, and extreme irritability are signs of an overdose.

Most of the scientific studies on aniracetam were done in rats, so there is little evidence in humans.

Caution against aniracetam

Several nootropic manufacturers, including aniracetam, have been targeted for suspicious advertising. Sometimes they attribute exaggerated properties to this type of drug, without any evidence to support it.

Although aniracetam is more than 50 years old, the evidence regarding its efficacy and safety remains very weak. It is best to consult with your doctor before using supplements with this substance and seek their advice on natural and proven ways to improve brain function.