Noopept

Noopept Guide: Effects, Benefits, Risks and More

Noopept is one of the most popular synthetic nootropics in the world right now. While other so-called “smart drugs” are more widely used by students and professionals to enhance cognitive function, Noopept is more commonly used as a general, all-purpose, daily nootropic than substances such as Piracetam or Modafinil. Noopept is actually a very exciting brain supplement; preliminary research shows that it may offer the same benefits as Piracetam at much lower doses. This isn’t particularly surprising, as it is a dipeptide Piracetam analogue.

In this article, I’ll explain what Noopept is, how it works, and what it does for cognition in practical terms. I’ll lay out the available clinical research and take you through the main dangers. At the end, I’ll tell you whether I would recommend Noopept for cognitive enhancement or not. Please post any questions you might have in the comments section at the end.


What is Noopept?

Noopept is the brand name for N-phenylacetyl-L-prolylglycine ethyl ester; a synthetic nootropic compound often erroneously said to be part of the racetam class of nootropics (it lacks a 2-oxo-pyrollidine nucleus so is not a racetam). In Russia, where Noopept was first synthesized, it is sometimes referred to as GSV-111.

Noopept was created in 1996. Its structure is based on that of cycloprolylglycine; an endogenous neuropeptide. Cycloprolylglycine is known to promote the expression of Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor in the brain. Researchers therefore posited that a nootropic based on cycloprolylglycine would have similar effects, and that is exactly what is claimed about Noopept.

Although it isn’t a racetam, Noopept is structurally similar to Piracetam. Noopept is actually a dipeptide conjugate of Piracetam. The two molecules are said to have very similar effects, with Noopept being the much more potent of the two nootropics by weight.


How Noopept Works

Noopept is a prodrug of cycloprolylglycine. As a neuropeptide, cycloprolylglycine has two main functions in the brain: increasing the release of Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and by influencing neurotransmitter systems.

BDNF governs the growth, proliferation, and differentiation of new neurons. Research has shown without any doubt that increasing BDNF leads to greater neuron density and increased synaptogenesis. Further research has established – as you might imagine – that increasing neuron density and growing your synapses enhances cognitive function across a number of different measures, including verbal fluency, memory function, focus, and learning.

Clinical research has shown that Noopept significantly increases BDNF levels in the brain[1][2]. Some of these studies have found that Noopept supplementation increases other neurotrophic factors, such as Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). By increasing the expression of multiple neurotrophic factors, Noopept should, in theory, enhance neuroplasticity in multiple brain regions at the same time.

Noopept increases BDNF and NGF

Some people have posited that Noopept also acts on certain key neurotransmitters. Specifically, it is suggested that Noopept acts on AMPA receptors (which is a glutamate receptor) and that it simultaneously promotes acetylcholine availability.

AMPA receptors are responsible for modulating fast synaptic transmission in the central nervous system. Acting on these receptors would greatly increase CNS excitability and promote fast synaptic information transfers. Acetylcholine is the brain’s primary executive neurotransmitter. Increasing acetylcholine availability improves everything from focus and learning to verbal fluency and even muscle function.

Unfortunately, there is no strong evidence that Noopept acts as an AMPA receptor agonist.

However, there is some very strong evidence that Noopept potentiates acetylcholine activity. However, rather than increasing the amount of acetylcholine available for use in the brain, Noopept seems to increase the number of free acetylcholine receptors at the synapse. In a study published in August 2019, researchers found that Noopept administration increased the number of acetylcholine receptors on the neuronal membrane

“Noopept can stimulate an increase of the number of AC receptors on the neuronal membrane, presumably as a result of its influence on endo- and exocytosis of the receptors by interaction with the proteins of the perimembrane matrix, protein kinases or protein phosphatases that participate in membrane or intracellular transportation of AC receptors. Furthermore, it can influence the efficiency of muscarinic AC receptors on the membrane of Helix lucorum neurons.”[3]

How Noopept works

Another important thing to note about Noopept’s pharmacokinetics is that it is extremely potent compared to other similar substances, such as the racetams. Noopept is highly bioavailable and it quickly crosses the blood brain barrier. Furthermore, Noopept is very quickly processed and removed from the body (more on Noopept’s half-life later). This is why Noopept is often used as a fast acting cognitive enhancer and not a long-term brain supplement despite the fact that it primarily works by boosting neurotrophic factors.

Noopept works first and foremost by increasing the release of neurotrophic factors in the brain; specifically Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factors (BDNF). It also seems likely that Noopept works by increasing the amount of acetylcholine receptors on the neuronal membrane. This would explain why Noopept exhibits both fast acting and long-term, lasting beneficial effects.

Noopept Benefits

The benefits associated with Noopept are extensive and varied. This is unsurprising given that it both potentiates acetylcholine and increases levels of NGF and BDNF.

Here is a list of the benefits typically associated with Noopept:

  1. Improved memory function
  2. Enhanced attention, focus and concentration
  3. Increased wakefulness
  4. Promotes neuroplasticity and growth of new brain tissues
  5. Reduces oxidative stress and promotes brain health
  6. Reduces anxiety and promotes excitability

All of these effects would result from increasing acetylcholine receptor numbers on the neuronal membrane and from increasing NGF/BDNF levels over the long-term. The effect that elevating neuropeptide has on cognition is dramatic, and the short-term effect of potentiating acetylcholine is certainly noticeable. The combined effect of these two mechanisms would essentially be complete brain optimization, with every aspect of brain function improved in some way.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that most Noopept users experience rapid improvements in executive cognitive functions, particularly with regards to focus and information processing. The long-term benefits of increasing neuropeptide availability are well documented!


Noopept Side Effects

Like almost every other synthetic nootropic except Piracetam, Noopept has not been particularly well studied in terms of side effects and long-term health risks. However, the available clinical literature and the wealth of anecdotal data makes clear that Noopept is likely to cause at least mild side effects in a significant portion of users.

Common side effects reported by Noopept users include:

  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Brain fog
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Inability to focus on one thing
  • General cognitive impairment

As stated above, the long term effects of Noopept use have not been properly studied. As such, I cannot say with any degree of certainty whether or not this nootropic is safe to use for prolonged periods of time. Many users consume Noopept on a daily basis for up to 60 days at a time before taking a prolonged break. This far, I have not found any evidence that such usage causes lasting damage.

However, any drug which potentiates acetylcholine and potentially acts as a glutamate receptor agonist will significantly increase the likelihood of seizures. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter, so activating glutamate receptors will excite the central nervous system. This, coupled with greater acetylcholine activity, may trigger seizures.

Noopept side effects

If you have a history of seizures, memory loss, severe headaches or any kind of cognition disturbances, then it is vital that you talk to your regular doctor before using Noopept, or any nootropic substance. Your doctor needs to do a full assessment before you start manipulating your neurotransmitter receptors in such a drastic way. This is not medical advice and I am not a doctor.

Noopept Dosage: How much should you take?

The main selling point of N-phenylacetyl-L-prolylglycine ethyl ester is that it is far more potent than Piracetam. That is actually how it is sold; as Piracetam with enhanced bioavailability. As N-phenylacetyl-L-prolylglycine ethyl ester is much more bioavailable than Piracetam (and seemingly better at crossing the blood brain barrier) it can deliver the same effects while using a fraction of the dose.

Research is scant when it comes to Noopept; human research anyway. But as a rule of thumb, the vast majority of users find that 10-30mg per day is more than enough N-phenylacetyl-L-prolylglycine ethyl ester to produce significant effects. Most of the research and all the anecdotal evidence suggests that 20mg of this nootropic produces significant effects, with very few users ever using more than 30mg per day.

Noopept dosage

As with all supplements, it is better to start low and work your way up. If you have never used Noopept before then I advise you to take the typical minimal active dose; 10mg. Only when you are certain that 10mg does not cause serious side effects for you – and that there are no interactions with other medications – should you increase the dose by 5mg.

Higher dosages should not be attempted until you have significant experience with Noopept, and only if your body weight and physiology demand higher dosages to produce desired effects. The safety of doses over 40mg is not established. Neurotoxicity and severe cognitive dysfunction are likely at very high doses.

It is crucial that you take regular breaks from Noopept. Never use it on a daily basis for more than 60 days at a time. If you reach 60 days, take a prolonged break of several months before using the compound again. This should simultaneously protect you from side effects and enhance the nootropic properties of the compound by avoiding a serious tolerance buildup.

The typical dosage for Noopept is 10-30mg per day. Users should start with 10mg per day for several days before increasing their dose by 5mg per week. Users rarely exceed 30mg per day, as larger doses provide no further benefit but greatly increase side effect risks.

How long does Noopept take to work?

Noopept is extremely fast acting. You can expect to feel the effects of Noopept within about 20 minutes of ingesting it. This makes Noopept one of the fastest nootropics to ‘kick in’. If we’re just talking about the immediate, acute effects of Noopept use, then peak effects occur after about 60 minutes and then very quickly dissipate over the next couple of hours. Few users report benefits after 3 hours (I suspect the final hour is placebo too).

However, the full effects of N-phenylacetyl-L-prolylglycine ethyl ester typically don’t become apparent until about after several weeks of consistent, daily use. This is because the real, lasting benefits of Noopept are the result of the nootropic’s effect on the neuropeptides BDNF and NGF.

Noopept Half-Life

If a substance is fast acting, then you can bet that it also has a very short half life. That’s certainly true of Noopept. Just as this nootropic has one of the fastest activation times, it also has one of the shortest half lives I have ever seen. The half life of Noopept is just 60-90 minutes depending on body weight, dose consumed and physiology. Most users will clear half of their dose of Noopept in 60-90 minutes.


Where To Buy Noopept

Most people buy Moopept from Nootropics Depot. As one of the largest suppliers of individual nootropic substances in the US, Nootropics Depot is the obvious go-to for most people. However, there are lots of places to buy Noopept online. If you’re looking to buy Noopept, be sure to search for N-phenylacetyl-L-prolylglycine ethyl ester as well as the brand name.

Is Noopept legal in Canada?

Yes, Noopept is legal to purchase and consume in Canada if you have a prescription. Canada has very similar laws regarding synthetic nootropics as the United States. Many nootropic pharmaceutical drugs require prescriptions, while others can be purchased online.

Is Noopept legal in the UK?

As of 2016 N-phenylacetyl-L-prolylglycine ethyl ester in any form – including when it is sold under the brand name Noopept – is a banned substance in the UK. If you’re in the UK you will therefore not be able to buy Noopept legally. Nootropics depot is therefore not an option; nor are any of the US or Canada based nootropics wholesalers.

Noopept vs Piracetam

Noopept is often lumped together with Piracetam. While not a racetam, Noopept is structurally very similar to Piracetam, and the two nootropics have very similar effects.

Noopept vs Piracetam

Common benefits associated with both Piracetam and Noopept include:

  • Improved memory function
  • Enhanced learning
  • Improved verbal fluency/fluidity
  • Reduced inflammation and better brain health

The only real difference between Noopept and Piracetam is the potency. Noopept is much more potent than Piracetam by weight. That means Noopept can deliver the same benefits as Piracetam with a significantly smaller dose. Generally speaking, you can expect to get the same effects as 3000mg of Piracetam from just 30mg of Noopept.


Summary: Is Noopept A Good Nootropic?

So is Noopept a good brain supplement? Should you use it to enhance cognitive performance? Does it promote better brain health?

The research is far from conclusive on the benefits of Noopept in humans. Large, robust clinical trials have simply not been done to ascertain just how much this nootropic can improve memory or learning. All we have are animal models and studies done on Piracetam, which is a different molecule despite its similarities with Noopept.

However, the research is clear that Noopept has the potential to drastically increase neuropeptide levels in the brain, and it may greatly increase acetylcholine receptor numbers. The effects of these actions would be vastly improved overall cognitive performance.

However, like all synthetic nootropic compounds (e.g. Modafinil, Aniracetam, Phenylpiracetam, etc) Noopept comes with a string of fairly serious side effect concerns. The fact that it potentially acts on glutamate receptors and acetylcholine receptor density simultaneously tells me that this drug significantly increases the risk of seizures. Then there’s the headaches, nausea, brain fog, and loss of motivation that many users report with Noopept.

Most important of all, the long term health risks associated with use of this nootropic have not been established, nor even studied properly.

I cannot possibly recommend the use of a synthetic nootropic with so much backfire potential and so much room to cause harm (both short and long term), especially when there are so many natural nootropics out there capable of drastically improving every facet of mental performance without the same side effect risks.

If you’re interested in cognitive enhancement and are considering Noopept, I strongly advise the use of a natural Noopept alternative before you expose yourself to these risks.

The best nootropic stacks can deliver all of the benefits of Noopept without the associated risks, and without requiring you to break the law!


Noopept FAQs

What is Noopept used for?

Noopept is a popular cognitive-enhancing supplement in the nootropic community. Noopept is primarily used for increasing acetylcholine signaling, increasing the expression of BDNF and NGF, protecting from glutamate toxicity, and increasing inhibitory neurotransmission in the brain. These are proposed mechanisms of action based on preclinical studies.

Does Noopept get you high?

No, Noopept does not get you high. It gives no euphoria, psychostimulation or any other feeling of being high. Nor does Noopept give you any kind of rush like you may experience when using a stimulant.

Is Noopept a stimulant?

Noopept is not a stimulant. Although Noopept has been found to increase information processing and enhance executive cognitive function, it does not increase physiological or central nervous system activity, so is therefore not a stimulant. Some people say that Noopept is a glutamate receptor agonist, which would make it a stimulant. But this has not been conclusively proven in clinical trials.

Can you take Noopept everyday?

If you comfortable with the potential for side effects, it is usually recommended to take Noopept every day for up to 60 days at a time. Standard daily dose of Noopept is 10-30mg, often split up into three equal doses. Start at 10mg each day and increase to 30mg only if no side effects occur.


References

[1] Ostrovskaya RU, Gudasheva TA, Zaplina AP, Vahitova JV, Salimgareeva MH, Jamidanov RS, Seredenin SB. Noopept stimulates the expression of NGF and BDNF in rat hippocampus. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2008 Sep;146(3):334-7. doi: 10.1007/s10517-008-0297-x. PMID: 19240853.

[2] 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. 2009 Mar;39(3):311-21. doi: 10.1007/s11055-009-9128-4. PMID: 19234797.

[3] Murzina, G.B., Pivovarov, A.S. Modulation of the Acetylcholine-Induced Input Current by Noopept in Helix Lucorum Neurons. BIOPHYSICS 64, 393–399 (2019).

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