by Anthony Roberts
Noopept is a drug in the broad category of nootropics that are used clinically to treat a variety of acute and chronic brain ailments (i.e. dysfunction caused by anything from a car crash to ageing) and off-label to increase cognitive function (learning, memory, etc…) in healthy users.
Noopept was first invented in 1996 as a dipeptide conjugate of piracetam (pyrollidine acetamide), though because it lacks the 2-oxo-pyrrolidone structure, it can’t be considered a racetam (as the defining characteristic for that classification is that base). Also, it lacks FDA approval as a drug, and since it isn’t a vitamin, mineral, amino acid, herb, or other botanical, noopept is not a legitimate (i.e. legal) dietary supplement in the United States.
Still, noopept is both widely available without a prescription and widely used, and as a result there’s plenty of reliable feedback on it. Unfortunately, I’ve only used it in formulas (with other ingredients), and none of them were very effective compared to other pharmaceutical nootropics. Other than my afforementioned personal experience (which isn’t overly useful), I’ve got a close friend who’s experimented with it alone at a variety of doses, and he reported a lack of noticeable effects. However, the vast majority of online users seem to like the stuff…
Noopept enthusiasts claim it helps with memory, cognition, problem-solving, and even that it’s a mild stimulant. The most likely mechanism of action appears to be primarily through aiding cholinergic function, which is unsurprising as this is how a majority of nootropics are likely to work. But noopept also has the benefit of being proven to increase nerve-growth factor (NGF) and brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), both of which are necessary for learning and the formation of new memories. It seems likely that one or more of these mechanisms is causing the increased alpha and beta waves in the brain that have been noted in studies.
When compared to piracetam, it’s far more effective, and with far lower doses. In CNS-diseased/post-concussive patients tested with the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), a battery of neuropsychological tests that evaluates cognitive function through assessing memory, attention, speech, counting, etc…noopept was the clear winner.
Similarly, on the Cognitive Capacity Screening Examination (which also measures cognitive functions such as memory and counting, but also orientation and the ability to make certain inferences), noopept was the clear winner over piracetam.
Unfortunately, and I hate to sound like a broken record here, but the majority of research into noopept is on those with a similarly damaged state with regards to brain function. In other words, outside of movies with Bradley Cooper, nobody is trying to develop drugs for people with healthy brains that will boost their intelligence to the next level; the drugs in the nootropic field are all basically created (and studied) for use in dementia, Alzhiemers, and other forms of cognitive dysfunction.
Still, when compared to piracetam it’s a lot more effective in terms of both results and on a milligram for milligram basis. As a result, most users trying to get a brain boost have stayed between 20-80mgs/day. As I said, the stuff does nothing for me (at least so far as I can tell), but it’s cheap and widely available, so it’s at least worth experimenting with…if you’re the type of person who experiments with non-FDA approved drugs for off label brain boosting.
- Kovalenko LP, et al. Immunopharmacological properties of noopept. Bull Exp Biol Med. (2007)
- Ostrovskaia RU, et al. The original novel nootropic and neuroprotective agent noopept. Eksp Klin Farmakol. (2002)
- Jia X, et al. Neuroprotective and nootropic drug noopept rescues α-synuclein amyloid cytotoxicity. J Mol Biol. (2011)
- Gudasheva TA, et al. The major metabolite of dipeptide piracetam analogue GVS-111 in rat brain and its similarity to endogenous neuropeptide cyclo-L-prolylglycine. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet. (1997)
- Neznamov GG, Teleshova ES Comparative studies of Noopept and piracetam in the treatment of patients with mild cognitive disorders in organic brain diseases of vascular and traumatic origin. Neurosci Behav Physiol.
- Lutsenko VK, Vukolova MN, Gudasheva TA Cyclopropyl glycine and proline-containing preparation noopept evoke two types of membrane potential responses in synaptoneurosomes. Bull Exp Biol Med. (2003)
- Solntseva EI, et al. The effects of piracetam and its novel peptide analogue GVS-111 on neuronal voltage-gated calcium and potassium channels. Gen Pharmacol. (1997)