Citation: Experimentalist. "Two-Month Self-Experiment: An Experience with Piracetam & Choline (exp97345)". Erowid.org. May 28, 2019. erowid.org/exp/97345
Piracetam / Choline Two-Month Self-Experiment
When I tried piracetam for the first time, I had a fantastic experience. Knowing that lots of people use piracetam regularly, and wanting to find out if I could get that kind of experience all the time, I looked it up on the internet, only to find minimal scientific research on piracetam as a nootropic and a lot of wildly variant and contradictory recommendations by users. So, wanting to find out for myself what worked best, I started systematically experimenting with piracetam (and taking detailed notes) to try to find out what its effects were, what the right dose was, and how to combine it with choline. A little more than two months and 240 grams of piracetam later, I wrote this report. The following is a (very long) report on my experience with piracetam.
Epistemic warning: Most of the non-cited material here is purely anecdotal, drawn from my own experience. Reactions to piracetam seem to vary significantly, and your own effects may be quite different. In addition, this report is based on my attempt to condense over two months of self-observation, so there are potential sources of error both in the gathering of the data (including lack of placebo control, meaning I can’t distinguish with complete confidence between pharmacological effects and psychological ones) and in the reporting of it. Still, I hope that this may prove useful to some people interested in nootropics. N.B.: All the following personal reports come from the use of encapsulated piracetam
All the following personal reports come from the use of encapsulated piracetam
; piracetam in dissolved powder form may have a significantly different effect profile, mostly due to much more rapid absorption.
•Summary of experiences
•Detailed positive effects
•Dosage, tolerance, duration
•Summary of experiences
I’ll start with the broadest description of my experiences. Piracetam, at its best, made me feel happier, more positive and energetic, and more in tune with the world. Its positive effects included music enhancement, visual enhancement, mood lift, increased energy, and, rarely, mental enhancement. I may also have gotten decreased anxiety, increased adventurousness, and improved self-control. My memory didn’t noticeably improve. Piracetam’s negative effects for me included headache, muscle tension in head and neck, brain fog, snappishness, and periods of very low energy; these were less common with and often alleviated by choline supplementation. All effects varied significantly by dose and over the course of the testing period, and not all effects occurred on every dose. There weren’t any obvious effects from long-term use, only acute effects from each dose. Tolerance built over the course of the testing period until I was unaffected by a previously strong dose, but I could still get effects from higher doses. I had no problems stopping use.
•Detailed positive effects
I experienced this in two main varieties, which I call “piracetam-style” and “citicoline-style” (see “choline sources”, below.)
Piracetam-style music enhancement was, for me, the signature feature of piracetam — partially because it was the most common effect (if I got anything at all from a dose, I got music enhancement) and partially because it’s so great. Music seemed rich, enthralling, and glorious, and could be incredibly blissful. I got this primarily from piracetam with Alpha GPC (see “choline sources”), but also sometimes from piracetam by itself or with citicoline.
Citicoline-style music enhancement was different, and a little more subtle: it felt like my music perception became more acute. Every note seemed crystal-clear, and I could really focus on the music. When getting citicoline-style music enhancement while listening to a song, I often felt that I could pick out and follow the sounds of multiple instruments individually and simultaneously. This type of music enhancement lent itself more to a sort of hypnotic sinking into the music. I got this only when using citicoline (both alone and in combination with piracetam).
The world looked better. When I was getting visual enhancement, colors seemed brighter and textures sharper, and things looked novel and visually interesting, like I was seeing them for the first time. Often, when I was getting this, little things I wouldn’t otherwise notice would catch my eye. It was somewhat hard to tell when this is happening, both because it’s relatively subtle and because there wasn’t any way to make a standard comparison. (I know what a recorded song sounds like, but the same place would look different if I looked at different parts, looked at it in different lighting, etc. So it could be hard to tell if I was getting mild visual enhancement from a particular dose, or if I was just paying more attention to what I was looking at.)
This could be anything from “feeling pretty good” to, occasionally, “complete ecstasy”. A moderate and fairly common effect was cheerfulness, self-confidence, and enthusiasm. Very pleasant, without any feeling of an unstable high. I sometimes seemed to be able to use piracetam to recover from bad moods.
Usually, a pleasant increase in general energy capacity that made me want to go out and do things. Very occasionally, and usually from a dose that gave me other strong effects, this could be too strong and manifest as jumpiness or overstimulation.
I got this only on a few occasions, without any obvious pattern besides maybe higher doses than usual. It was a very interesting sensation — I felt really acute and quick-witted, and seemed to be more able to draw on my knowledge and make intellectual connections. I was also a sharper conversationalist, with a tendency to quip.
I’ve definitely gotten this some of the time; when I was getting mood lift from piracetam, I often felt totally incapable of being anxious, with a feeling of “what could there possibly be to be anxious about?” The reason that this is a tentative effect is that I’m not sure I got it reliably — my anxiety levels in general decreased over the course of the testing period (possibly a long-term effect of piracetam, but more probably due to other factors like getting more sleep and sunlight), and so it got harder to tell whether the piracetam was making a difference.
When on piracetam, I sometimes seemed to be more curious, more inclined to explore, more inclined to notice things that I wouldn’t otherwise notice. But I’m not sure that this was a real effect, and if it was it might just be an ancillary effect of improved mood.
When on piracetam, I sometimes had a sense of effortless self-control, like I actually didn’t want to do the things that I wanted to resist doing. For example, at one point I walked through a fair full of delicious unhealthy food while hungry without getting anything. But I stopped noticing this after a while, and I’m not entirely sure it generalized to things besides food, so I’m not confident enough to count it as an effect.
-Memory improvement, lack thereof-
I didn’t run any real tests (measures of working memory capacity, etc.), and I wasn’t particularly trying to memorize anything, so I can’t confidently say that my memory didn’t improve. However, it didn’t improve enough for me to notice a difference.
Choline is an essential nutrient and a component in the synthesis of acetylcholine. It’s widely anecdotally reported to work synergistically with piracetam, increasing the positive effects and decreasing the negative ones. The most common sources of choline in supplement form are Alpha GPC (a.k.a. choline alfoscerate), citicoline (a.k.a. CDP-choline), choline citrate, choline bitartrate, and lecithin. These vary significantly in terms of bioavailability, ancillary effects, and price, with Alpha GPC and citicoline being the most expensive by far and also usually considered the most effective. None of these are addictive or have any toxicity or significant side effects that I know of, though I haven’t researched all of them in as much depth as piracetam itself.
Interestingly, I’ve also found that choline sources (on their own, and apparently of any type) seem to restore normal energy levels when I’m feeling burned out. I’m only moderately confident in that, but it’s potentially very useful if true.
The following is a mix of research on the choline sources and personal experiences with them.
I never got noticeable effects from Alpha GPC by itself, even at high, repeated doses. In combination with piracetam, it seemed to significantly diminish the incidence of side effects (see “Side effects”, below) and make them go away when they were already occurring. It also apparently made the positive effects of piracetam more likely to occur. For example, I’ve gone from getting only side effects to getting strong positive effects on successive identical doses of piracetam by switching my choline source from lecithin (below) to Alpha GPC.
This is the choline source I’ve chosen to go with for further use, mostly because when I tried using repeated high-dose piracetam and Alpha GPC (3200 mg piracetam and 1200 mg Alpha GPC three times a day) for several days, I got very positive results that extended beyond the usual duration of piracetam effects: improved mood, increased energy, and improved emotional outlook, among others. However, this also seems to be subject to tolerance buildup, since these effects didn’t persist when I tried repeating that dosage regimen for a longer period of time later
these effects didn’t persist when I tried repeating that dosage regimen for a longer period of time later
Citicoline is interesting. Unlike Alpha GPC, it produces noticeable effects by itself. The normal effect combo is citicoline-style music enhancement and texture enhancement, but I’ve sometimes even gotten mental enhancement from citicoline alone. The overall effect, when I got it (and like most other effects, this was hard to get consistently), was a feeling of sharpness: sharp music perception, sharp texture perception, sharp mind. I also sometimes seemed to wake up feeling unusually vigorous the morning after taking a relatively large (~2 gram) dose. Piracetam taken with citicoline seems to take longer to take effect — about three hours rather than two — and seems to have subtly different effects, mostly by way of influence from the standalone effects of citicoline.
Citicoline absorption has the interesting property of having two peaks: one an hour after an oral dose, and a second, higher peak 24 hours after. I spent some time investigating the effects of the second peak. Results varied: usually it seemed like I got a lesser effect if any at all, but once I got extremely strong music enhancement the day after.
Another unusual effect of citicoline was that it seems to have the ability to induce hypnagogia — multiple times, when getting strong music enhancement from it, I would slip into a half-asleep state (unawareness, disconnected thought) and sometimes stay there for a while without actually falling asleep, despite not being sleep deprived at all. More tenuously, it seems to be associated with vaguely mysterious moods and perhaps flow states.
I’ve come to think of citicoline as the “moon” to Alpha GPC’s “sun”: piracetam with Alpha GPC tends to produce bright, cheerful, energetic states, while piracetam with citicoline tends more to sharpness and trancelike states.
One of the cheaper varieties. I didn’t do much investigation on this one, because when I tried using it in any quantity it quickly gave me an unpleasant smell.
Another cheaper one. Tried this once by itself (650 mg), got severely anxious and agitated for around five hours, did not try it again. However, that might well have been a fluke or an idiosyncratic reaction.
Cheap and readily available (the only one of these I can get in a drugstore), but a really lousy source of choline; I think it’s around 3% choline by weight. I tried using this as a choline source, but even when I was using 10 grams of it a day, piracetam rapidly stopped having any positive effects and started accumulating negative ones (mostly irritability).
Again, varied widely and occurred mostly when I wasn’t taking enough choline. Mild headache and muscle tension (specifically jaw clenching) were the most common side effects throughout. When I took large or repeated doses of piracetam with no choline or inadequate sources (i.e. lecithin), I tended to get socially cold and snappish; this could be quickly relieved by choline. When I was just starting to take it, piracetam sometimes gave me “brain fog” in which I had trouble concentrating, but that stopped happening after a while. Once my experimental dose of piracetam stopped being effective by itself due to tolerance, taking it without any choline seemed to drain my energy and motivation somewhat.
•Dosage, tolerance, duration
This was the most frustrating part of the whole thing. There’s very little research on piracetam dosage for nootropic (as opposed to medical) use in humans, and the mg/kg doses used on rats would be absurdly high if scaled up to human weight (though it’s not that simple). Opinions on the internet about the right dosages of piracetam and choline vary very widely. In addition, I clearly built up tolerance over the course of testing.
When I started testing, I got no noticeable effect from 800 mg doses, even repeated three times a day. At 1600 mg, I would get mild mood/energy lift and music enhancement. 3200 mg became my standard testing dose — the first few times I used it, I got extremely strong effects, but over the course of the testing period my tolerance got so strong that I would get no noticeable effects even if I took it three times a day. I recently tried 4800 mg and got strong effects again on that, but as a matter of personal preference, I don’t really want to chase after the effects by using ever-higher doses.
Dosage for choline sources were a shot in the dark, and mostly chosen by matching the number of piracetam pills I took with the number of choline pills I took, but I eventually settled on 1200 mg as my standard Alpha GPC dose and 1250 mg as my standard citicoline dose, to supplement 3200 mg piracetam.
Normally, when I took repeated doses in a day, I’d space them about five hours apart, taking three at most. Onset normally took 40 minutes-2 hours, tending towards the longer end, but seemed to take around 3 hours when taken with citicoline. Noticeable effects usually lasted for an hour or two.
All this is for encapsulated piracetam: on the few occasions when I’ve dissolved piracetam powder in water, it’s taken effect immediately and much more strongly than equal doses taken in capsules, perhaps with somewhat different effects. Piracetam powder tastes horrible.
I’m not sure whether piracetam has withdrawal symptoms; I didn’t consistently get effects when not using piracetam after using it for a while. If it does, they’re fairly brief (two days or so) and mild, consisting of periodic drops in energy level and increased neuroticism (anxiety, restlessness). I certainly didn’t experience any cravings when I stopped use.
Piracetam is a fantastic, life-enhancing drug when it works. The problem is that even after long experimentation I’m not sure I’ve found a way to make it work consistently
even after long experimentation I’m not sure I’ve found a way to make it work consistently
. This is partially because dosage is unclear and the effects from a given dose seem to vary, but mostly because the buildup of tolerance makes it hard to get noticeable effects in the long term without steadily increasing dosage. I also haven’t found piracetam useful for its billed purpose of improving memory or mental ability. But its effects on mood, energy, music perception and so forth can be wonderful, and on the strength of that I’ve bought myself a longer-term supply, which I think I’ll use periodically for the acute effects rather than trying to get anything long-term.
In short, piracetam can be very good, though probably not long-term.
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