I've thoroughly tested all the racetams, and phenylpiracetam is a favorite. It’s one of the most potent and bioavailable racetams.
Studies indicate that phenylpiracetam is also more effective than piracetam in a number of different treatment outcomes [^1].
But there are two big downsides to phenylpiracetam.
The first is that tolerance to its effects can develop rapidly. If you take the same dose of phenylpiracetam for many consecutive days, you’ll experience diminishing returns.
The second is that you can expect some odd reactions to phenylpiracetam, depending on your neurobiological makeup. Taking more than 100 mg at at time, for example, is depressogenic (makes me feel depressed). I can’t substantiate this, but I suspect this effect is related to the fact that phenylpiracetam is an anticonvulsant. Anitconvulsants like Gabapentin decrease neuronal excitability and suppress seizures.
Phenylpiracetam (carphedon; phenotropil) was identified in Soviet Russia several decades ago as a nootropic agent with applications in the treatment of organic brain syndromes and neurodegenerative disease.
Phenylpiracetam is a piracetam derivative with a single structural modification: the addition of a lipophilic (fat-loving) phenyl functional group. The non-polar phenyl moiety enhances phenylpiracetam’s blood brain barrier permeability and hastens the onset of nootropic effects.
Strangely enough, phenylpiracetam was originally used by astronauts on spaceships in Soviet Russia to increase performance under demanding conditions. Apparently phenylpiracetam didn’t provide enough of an edge to allow the Soviets to win the space race.
As of 2003, phenylpiracetam was approved as a prescription drug in Russia for the treatment of cerebrovascular deficiency, depression, apathy, attention and memory decline.
Phenylpiraceteam is one of my favorite nootropics, for a number of reasons. It has very robust effects compared with other racetams.
Its superior potency, BBB penetration and bioavailability can be seen from the following comparison:
|Piracetam||Low: 50-300 mg/kg||~100%||4-5 h|
|Oxiracetam||Medium: 25-40 mg/kg||~75%||3-6 h|
|Pramiracetam||Medium: 10-20 mg/kg||~100%||2-8 h|
|Aniracetam||Medium: 12-25 mg/kg||~11%||1-2.5 h|
|Phenylpiracetam||High: 2.5-5 mg/kg||~100%||3-5 h|
…[^2]The differences noted favoured phenylpiracetam over piracetam because of faster alleviation of headaches and a general fatigue after 7 and 14 days. Phenylpiracetam was favoured in the treatment of chronic vascular encephalopathy as it improved the cognitive performance in all tests, whereas only two of the eight test scores increased in the piracetam arm. It also improved both asthenia and depression scores, albeit to a lesser extent in MS patients.
In a comparative trial, asthenia and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients were treated with phenylpiracetam (68 people), piracetam (65 people) and placebo (47 people). The scores of the ten-word memory test and attention switching tests for the phenylpiracetam improved relative to those of piracetam and placebo. Overall, 83% of asthenic and 87% of CFS patients responded well to phenylpiracetam versus 48% and 55%, respectively, to piracetam. In agreement with this, phenylpiracetam markedly increased the problem-solving skills of adolescents with asthenia who were A-players, B-players and C-players (i.e. the number of individuals able to respond to the memory and attention tests after the first, second and third attempts) from 11%, 15%, 73% before to 23%, 40%, 37% after treatment, respectively. It was superior to piracetam (400 mg/day) in combination with multivitamins and physiotherapy.
The only major downside? Phenylpiraceatm use will rapidly part you from your money. It’s the cadillac of nootropics, and you need to be a high roller to afford it.
[^1]: Malykh AG, Sadaie MR. Piracetam and piracetam-like drugs: from basic science to novel clinical applications to CNS disorders. Drugs. 2010;70(3):287-312.
[^2]: Malykh AG, Sadaie MR. Piracetam and piracetam-like drugs: from basic science to novel clinical applications to CNS disorders. Drugs. 2010;70(3):287-312.