Phenylpiracetam: Review of Benefits, Dosage, & Side Effects
By Ali Kuoppala | Last reviewed Mon 24 September 2018
Medical Review by Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD
What is Phenylpiracetam: Sold by the brand names Phenotropil and Carphedon, Phenylpiracetam is a racetam structure nootropic smart drug.
It was created by simply adding a phenyl group to the standard pyridione skeleton of Piracetam (which is seen as the structural back-bone and grand-father compound of all the racetam nootropics).
This addition of a phenyl ring is claimed to make Phenylpiracetam much more potent and bio-available than the original compound (Piracetam), it’s also touted to have slightly different effects in the body.
Phenylpiracetam (RS)-2-(2-oxo-4-phenylpyrrolidin-1-yl)acetamide) is purely synthetic and doesn’t occur naturally in plants or foods.
NOTE: Phenylpiracetam, being the most potent and stimulatory of the racetams, can actually be abused as a focus aid in sports and is banned by WADA under the blanket-term “non-specific stimulant”.
Table of Contents
How Does Phenylpiracetam Work
Phenylpiracetam and its mechanism of action has been extensively studied in human and animal-model, especially in Russia where it was first synthesized in 1983.
When compared to other racetams, Phenylpiracetam absorbs fast and has very high oral bio-availibity. It’s believed to be the strongest of the more studied racetams.
Phenylpiracetam, very similarly to Piracetam, is able to increase the uptake of choline into the neurons, which increases the synthesis of the brain neurotransmitter; acetylcholine. This should theoretically result in improved memory function, increased attention, and better learning and reasoning abilities.
Phenylpiracetam also has a potent psychostimulatory effect as shown in studies measuring locomotor activity in animal-model. This in combination with its ability to increase the density and sensitivity of the brain dopamine receptors suggests that Phenylpiracetam would be best suited for those looking to primarily increase attention and focus.
Overall, we don’t know too much about Phenylpiracetam’s exact mechanism of action, just that its more potent and stimulatory than its predecessors and that it works via the cholinergic and dopaminergic systems.
Phenylpiracetam Benefits and Research
Where we are lacking on studies of the actual mechanism of Phenylpiracetam, we certainly do have much more data on its actual benefits and effects.
First and foremost, like common with all the racetams, Phenylpiracetam is neuroprotective, and in both human and animal studies it has been able to protect and preserve the brain and its delicate functions from toxins and trauma, such as: valproyl amide, carbamazepine, lamotrigine, topiramate, barbiturates, metrazol, brain stroke, and many other brain disorders caused by hypoxia, bacteria, or mitochondrial disorders.
In 99 subjects with cognitive decline, Phenylpiracetam administration has been shown to significantly improve all measured scores of the minimental state examination (MMSE), which is a standard 30-point questionnaire commonly used to assess cognition. The researchers also noted significant improvements in the self-reported ability to “execute everyday activities” by the subjects.
In another similar study, Phenylpiracetam was shown to speed up the recovery from mild cranial brain traumas. And when it was compared to Piracetam in subjects with chronic circulation related brain disorders, Phenylpiracetam was much better at restoring cognitive abilities than its “grand-father compound”.
Later, Phenylpiracetam was again compared to Piracetam, but this time in subjects who were told to complete a basic 10-word memory test and series of attention switching tests. When compared against placebo, Phenylpiracetam improved the results in 85% of the subjects, whereas Piracetam was only able to do that in 51%.
In a study of adolescents, Phenylpiracetam administration has been shown to significantly improve problem-solving and learning abilities in a series of cognitive tests (again being more potent at this than Piracetam).
Phenylpiracetam has been extensively studied in humans and animals and shows clear signs of significant improvements in cognitive abilities while possessing potent neuroprotective effects.
Phenylpiracetam Dosage and How to Take
Since it’s basically buffed up Piracetam with enhanced effects, absorption, and bio-availibity, you don’t need to take a lot of it.
When taken orally a daily dosage of 200-600mg total has been proven effective by the clinical studies. Some also like to use Phenylpiracetam powder sublinqually (dissolved under the tongue) which should enhance the absorption.
Phenylpiracetam has a half-life of 3 hours, which is why a smart way to take it would have you divide the total daily dosage into 2-3 smaller doses which would be taken thorough the day.
In their book “Smart Drugs and Nutrients“ two neuroscientists suggest that racetam compounds should be taken with an “attack dosage”. This so called attack dose would be 2-5x higher than the generally recommended amount and the idea is to over-stimulate the neuronal uptake of the active compounds.
Should you do it with Phenylpiracetam? In my opinion, no. It might be a good idea for some of the weaker racetams that are shown to build up in the neurons and improve long-term memory potentiation, but for something that is as stimulatory and potent as Phenylpiracetam, I would recommend sticking to the clinically proven dosages.
Phenylpiracetam is fat-soluble and should absorb better when taken with a meal containing a source of dietary fat.
Since Phenylpiracetam increase acetylcholine synthesis, it also depletes the body from its raw material; choline.
Phenylpiracetam is best taken at dosage range of 200-600mg/day and divided to few smaller doses taken at roughly 3-5 hours apart. It’s fat-soluble and cholinergic, so take with some dietary fat and co-supplement with choline source.
Phenylpiracetam Side Effects and Tolerance
Broadly speaking, the racetam class of nootropics is very safe and in research animals shows less toxicity than table salt.
However due to the fact that Phenylracetam is the strongest of the racetams with stimulatory properties, one should always stick to the recommended dosage range.
Majority of the clinical trials report no side effects, but few of them have shown rare cases of sleep disturbances, nausea, and mild headache. These side effects can be minimized by not taking Phenylpiracetam in the evening (as its stimulatory), co-supplementating with choline source (believed to reduce the occurrence of headaches), and taking it with a meal and plenty of water (to prevent nausea).
Where Phenylpiracetam differs from its predecessors is that you can quickly build up tolerance to the stuff, and some users even report that it can be slightly addictive when taken at high dosages for longer periods of time.
So take caution and use it sparingly in a non-chronic manner. My recommendation is to cycle few different racetams and take occasional breaks from all use of nootropics.
Phenylpiracetam appears to be non-toxic and comes with very low risk of side effects. Anecdotally its reported to cause tolerance build up quickly and even be slightly addictive to some users, so definitely use it sparingly and only when you need that “extra edge”.
NOTE: You can learn more about various nootropics and smart drugs from the Smart Drug Crash Course.