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What Should I Know About It?


Updated May 08, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Aniracetam is a type of nootropic, a class of drugs used to enhance brain function. Although aniracetam is available as a prescription drug in Europe, it is currently unregulated in the United States.

Uses for Aniracetam

Classified as a smart drug, aniracetam is typically used to sharpen memory, improve concentration, and increase mental alertness. In addition, aniracetam is sometimes used to treat the following conditions:

Aniracetam is also touted as an anti-aging agent.

Benefits of Aniracetam

Although few clinical trials have tested the health effects of aniracetam, a number of preliminary studies indicate that aniracetam may offer certain health benefits.

In a report published in the journal CNS Drug Reviews in 2002, for instance, investigators analyzed the available research on the use of aniracetam in treatment of central nervous system (CNS) disorders and disease states. Looking at findings from animal-based studies, the researchers found that aniracetam shows promise in the management of conditions like posttraumatic stress disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, and sleep disorders. However, the report's authors note that is currently "no convincing evidence" of aniracetam's effectiveness in treating any of these conditions in humans.

Here's a look at several other key findings from the available studies on aniracetam:

1) Anxiety

Aniracetam may aid in the treatment of anxiety disorders, according to a 2001 published in the European Journal of Pharmacology. In tests on mice, researchers found that aniracetam may help alleviate anxiety by affecting a number of neurotransmitters (a class of chemicals involved in carrying messages from nerve cells to other cells).

2) Depression

Aniracetam may possess antidepressant-like effects, a 2001 study from the journal Psychopharmacology suggests. In tests on rats, scientists discovered that aniracetam may help stimulate the release of dopamine (a neurotransmitter commonly found at low levels in people with depression).

3) Cognitive Impairment

Several preliminary studies have shown that aniracetam may be of some benefit to people with cognitive impairment. For example, a 2012 study published in CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics found that treating elderly adults with aniracetam for a year led to significant improvement in cognitive function. Involving 276 older adults with cognitive disorders, the study also found that aniracetam had beneficial effects on mood and emotional wellbeing.

In addition, a rat-based study published in Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences in 2000 found that aniracetam may help treat the sleep disturbances commonly associated with dementia.

Side Effects of Aniracetam

Aniracetam may trigger a number of side effects, including insomnia, headaches, anxiety, pain, vertigo, nausea, and diarrhea.

It's also important to note that self-treating a chronic condition with aniracetam and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences. If you're considering the use of aniracetam in treatment of a chronic condition, make sure to consult your physician prior to using the drug.

Where To Find Aniracetam

Aniracetam is widely available for purchase online.


Kimura M, Okano S, Inoué S. "Effects of aniracetam on impaired sleep patterns in stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats." Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2000 Jun;54(3):314-6.

Koliaki CC, Messini C, Tsolaki M. "Clinical efficacy of aniracetam, either as monotherapy or combined with cholinesterase inhibitors, in patients with cognitive impairment: a comparative open study." CNS Neurosci Ther. 2012 Apr;18(4):302-12.

Li Y, Wang JJ, Cai JX. "Aniracetam restores the effects of amyloid-beta protein or ageing on membrane fluidity and intracellular calcium concentration in mice synaptosomes." J Neural Transm. 2007;114(11):1407-11.

Nakamura K. "Aniracetam: its novel therapeutic potential in cerebral dysfunctional disorders based on recent pharmacological discoveries." CNS Drug Rev. 2002 Spring;8(1):70-89.

Nakamura K, Kurasawa M. "Anxiolytic effects of aniracetam in three different mouse models of anxiety and the underlying mechanism." Eur J Pharmacol. 2001 May 18;420(1):33-43.

Nakamura K, Tanaka Y. "Antidepressant-like effects of aniracetam in aged rats and its mode of action." Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001 Nov;158(2):205-12.

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