Aniracetam is a type of nootropic. This is a group of substances that enhance brain function.

Some forms, such as caffeine, are naturally derived. Others are synthetically made into drugs. Aniracetam falls into the latter category.

Despite its reputation as a brain enhancer, aniracetam is extremely controversial. It’s approved in Europe, but it’s not an approved substance in the United States.

Although aniracetam lacks FDA approval, some people purchase the substance illegally through online vendors. It comes in the form of capsules and powders.

Read on to learn more about the controversy behind aniracetam as well as its supposed benefits. Always talk to a doctor before taking any supplements for brain enhancement.

Aniracetam primarily acts as both a stimulant and a mental enhancer. It’s said to help make you more awake and alert. This is similar to caffeine.

It may also help improve your memory and concentration.

Despite the purported benefits, one 2014 study on adult mice found no difference in anxiety and cognition when compared to a placebo. More research is needed in humans to determine its effects.

Below are some of the most common uses of aniracetam.

Aniracetam for anxiety

Some studies have shown decreased anxiety from aniracetam in rodents. However, there aren’t enough human studies available to support this treatment measure for anxiety in people.

Aniracetam for depression

Due to its antidepressant effects, aniracetam could potentially help with depression in some people.

A clinical study in rats of both aniracetam and piracetam found that the substances could help with turnover of serotonin and dopamine. These are two important neurotransmitters that can affect your overall mood. They can also help with sleep quality, appetite, and weight maintenance.

Researchers used 50 mg/kg of aniracetam in the study.

Aniracetam for dementia

Aniracetam’s effects on memory and cognition could also help treat dementia. This includes Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

Small studies of the substance in seniors with Alzheimer’s noted positive results in those with mild to moderate symptoms. But larger trials are needed to confirm these results.

Adderall is a type of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine combination used to treat ADHD. It’s only available by prescription.

The drug helps treat hyperactive symptoms, such as restlessness. It can also improve concentration. The medication is often complemented with other treatments, such as behavioral therapy.

Adderall has stimulating effects. You might wonder if aniracetam can work just as well, if not better. This point is worth considering.

Adderall can be highly addictive and cause a variety of side effects. These include:

  • anxiety
  • increased heart rate
  • weight loss
  • incontinence
  • sexual dysfunction

One review of ADHD treatments published in Adolescent Psychiatry found that aniracetam can be helpful without unwanted side effects. The authors suggested 750 mg twice per day.

However, it’s important to note that researchers didn’t directly compare aniracetam and Adderall.

The FDA hasn’t approved aniracetam for ADHD treatment. This is due to the lack of available clinical studies that prove it’s an effective treatment for such conditions.

A major reason why aniracetam isn’t approved in the United States is due to unknown efficacy and potential side effects.

Others warn of reproductive side effects, such as fertility damage and possible fetal harm to an unborn baby.

The stimulating effects of this substance can potentially cause:

  • jitteriness
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Aniracetam isn’t approved in the United States in any dosage. But certain dosages have been studied in both animals and humans.

The substance is available in other countries and in online supplements in varying dosage levels.

While the substance may be prescribed in Europe for neurological disorders, it’s most commonly sought by U.S. consumers for the intention of cognitive enhancement purposes.

Nootropics are also notably used among individuals who want to try to enhance their cognitive skills, according to researchers.

Researches in one mice study used 50 mg/kg of oral aniracetam per day. Another study in people with Alzheimer’s used 1,500 mg per day with good tolerance levels reported.

Overall, clinical studies have used dosages of 25 to 100 mg/kg on average, according to a review published in Pharmaceutics.

While nootropics are most commonly taken by mouth, emerging research is suggesting better efficacy when aniracetam is taken intravenously. More research is needed.

Nootropic substances are known for enhancing brain function, but more research is needed before aniracetam can be approved to treat neurological conditions in the United States.

In the meantime, you can ask a doctor about other ways you might enhance your cognitive function, such as exercising and eating a healthy diet.

If you have specific questions related to a neurological disorder, resist the urge to self-treat it with online supplements, and see a medical professional instead.