Piracetam
Piracetam

Background

Piracetam is a chemical that is made in a lab. In some countries in Europe it is used as a drug to improve memory and brain function. In the United States, some manufacturers sell piracetam as a dietary supplement. However, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not consider piracetam to be a legal dietary supplement.

Piracetam is most commonly used for breath-holding attacks, seizure disorder (epilepsy), dizziness (vertigo), a learning disorder marked by difficulty reading (dyslexia), and a movement disorder often caused by antipsychotic drugs (tardive dyskinesia). It is also used for dementia, schizophrenia, sickle cell disease, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support many of these uses.
When taken by mouth: Piracetam is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken appropriately. Some people who take piracetam have had nausea, vomiting, weight gain, nervousness, and sleep changes.

When given by IV: Piracetam is POSSIBLY SAFE when given by IV by a healthcare professional.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if piracetam is safe to use when pregnant or breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Piracetam is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth under the supervision of a medical professional.

Cocaine use disorder: Piracetam seems to increase cocaine use in people who are addicted to cocaine and are trying to quit. Until more is known, do not use piracetam if you have cocaine use disorder.

Epilepsy: Stopping piracetam or decreasing the dose of piracetam might increase the number of seizures in people with epilepsy. If you have epilepsy, use piracetam only under the care of a doctor.

Huntington disease: Piracetam seems to increase symptoms in people with Huntington disease. Until more is known, do not use piracetam if you have Huntington disease.

Kidney problems: Piracetam is removed from the body by the kidneys. Talk to a healthcare provider before using piracetam if you have kidney problems.

Surgery: Piracetam might slow blood clotting. This might result in too much bleeding if it is used before surgery. Stop taking piracetam at least 2 weeks before surgery.

Effectiveness

NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Breath-holding attacks. Some research shows that taking piracetam for 2-3 months helps to reduce breath-holding spells in young children.
  • Surgery to improve blood flow to the heart (CABG surgery). Most available research shows that giving a single dose of piracetam by injection (IV) or by mouth around the time of CABG surgery helps with memory recall after surgery.
  • A learning disorder marked by difficulty reading (dyslexia). Most early research shows that taking piracetam for at least 12 weeks improves some reading skills in children aged 7-14 years with dyslexia.
  • Seizure disorder (epilepsy). Most available research shows that taking piracetam reduces some symptoms of epilepsy in some patients who are also taking antiseizure drugs. But not all research agrees on which symptoms are improved by piracetam.
  • A movement disorder often caused by antipsychotic drugs (tardive dyskinesia). Some research shows that symptoms of tardive dyskinesia improve in some people when piracetam is taken by mouth or given with a needle.
  • Dizziness (vertigo). Some research shows that giving piracetam intravenously (by IV) decreases feelings of dizziness in people with vertigo. Taking piracetam by mouth for one week also seems to be helpful for reducing vertigo symptoms in people with acute vertigo. In people with chronic vertigo, taking piracetam by mouth might reduce the number of vertigo spells. But it doesn't seem to make the spells less severe.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions
  • Alzheimer disease. Early research shows that taking piracetam does not improve mental function in people with Alzheimer disease.
  • Decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age. Early research shows that taking piracetam three times daily might improve memory loss with aging in some people.
  • Autism. Early research shows that taking piracetam with a medication called risperidone helps improve some symptoms of autism in children.
  • Cocaine use disorder. Early research shows that taking piracetam does not help with cocaine addiction. In some people, it might even increase cocaine use.
  • Dementia. Early research shows that taking piracetam might improve memory loss in some patients with dementia.
  • Down syndrome. Early research shows that taking piracetam does not help children with Down syndrome. In some children, aggression and irritability might increase.
  • Memory. Early research shows that taking piracetam does not improve memory loss in people who have had electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
  • Parkinson disease. Early research shows that taking piracetam does not improve symptoms of Parkinson disease.
  • Recovery after surgery. Early research shows that giving a single dose of piracetam by injection (IV) does not improve memory in people who have had open heart surgery.
  • Schizophrenia. Early research shows that taking piracetam with a medication called haloperidol reduces some symptoms of schizophrenia. But it's not clear if it is beneficial when taken with the newer, more effective drugs used for schizophrenia.
  • Sickle cell disease. Some early research shows that taking piracetam might reduce the severity of symptoms in children with sickle cell disease. However, not all research agrees. Doctors do not recommend piracetam for sickle cell disease.
  • Stroke. Some early research shows that taking piracetam might prevent a second stroke. One study also shows that certain groups of people with a stroke might benefit more from piracetam than others. But overall, piracetam doesn't seem to prevent death, improve function, or improve speaking ability following a stroke. In fact, piracetam might increase the risk for death in patients with the most severe symptoms of stroke.
  • Depression.
  • Concussion.
  • Bed-wetting.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Other uses.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of piracetam for these uses.

Dosing & administration

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

ADULTS

BY MOUTH:
  • For surgery to improve blood flow to the heart (CABG surgery): Piracetam 12 grams daily for 6 weeks, starting on day 6 after surgery.
  • For seizure disorder (epilepsy): Piracetam 9.6-24 grams daily for up to 18 months.
  • For a movement disorder often caused by antipsychotic drugs (tardive dyskinesia): Piracetam 2.4 grams twice daily for 4 weeks.
  • For vertigo: Piracetam 800 mg three times daily for 1-8 weeks.
WITH A NEEDLE:
  • For surgery to improve blood flow to the heart (CABG surgery): Piracetam 12 grams administered by a healthcare professional as a single dose. Piracetam 12 grams, administered by a healthcare professional daily from the day before surgery to 6 days after surgery.
  • For a movement disorder often caused by antipsychotic drugs (tardive dyskinesia): Piracetam 8-24 grams daily administered by a healthcare professional.
  • For vertigo: Piracetam 1-2 grams administered by a healthcare professional as a single dose.
CHILDREN

BY MOUTH:
  • For breath-holding attacks: Piracetam 40 mg/kg daily for 2-3 months in children 6-36 months of age.
  • For dyslexia: Piracetam 3.3 grams daily for at least 12 weeks in children aged 7-14 years.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)

Interaction Rating=Major Do not take this combination.

Piracetam might slow blood clotting. Taking piracetam along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.
Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting: Piracetam might slow blood clotting. Using it along with other herbs and supplements that might also slow blood clotting could increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in some people. Some of these herbs include angelica, clove, danshen, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, Panax ginseng, and others.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods.

Action

Piracetam is a chemical that is thought to help cells in the brain and blood vessels to function better. During aging and in some kinds of diseases, the membrane that surrounds cells starts to get stiff. Cells with a stiff membrane do not function as well. Some scientists think that piracetam helps maintain the membrane that surrounds cells so that they continue to function well.
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This monograph was last reviewed on 29/12/2022 18:11:00 and last updated on 20/12/2021 09:04:32. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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