As you may have noticed, many nootropics end in the suffix “racetam.” Some of the more common racetams include Piracetam, Aniracetam, and Oxiracetam, to name only a few. But what does racetam mean?
Racetam is simply the class of drugs that many nootropics fall under. All of these drugs are similar chemically. To be exact, they all share a pyrrolidone nucleus.
It is very common in the world of drugs to group similar compounds together. Take, for example, the benzodiazepines (or benzos for short). Common benzos that you may recognize include diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin), and flunitrazepam (Rohypnol). Notice how they all end in “epam?”
The benzos are most certainly not considered nootropics. If anything they decrease mental performance, are addictive, and should only be used for short periods of time. In many ways they are the exact opposite of nootropics. But they make an apt comparison. The suffix of both benzos and racetams are used to categorize these drugs based on their chemical structure.
You should not take this to mean that all racetams work the same way, however. We know that just because two drugs are similar chemically does not mean that they will have the same effect in the body. Each racetam has a different set of benefits, potential side effects, and recommended dosage.
Changing the chemical composition of a drug, even a tiny little bit, can drastically change the way that it works in the body. One clear example is Adderall and ecstasy (MDMA). These drugs are chemically similar, but affect the user much differently. Both are amphetamines, but have very different effects.
It is interesting to note that not all racetams are considered to be nootropics. And not all nootropics are racetams. Some nootropics are simply amino acids, like L-Theanine. Others are similar to racetams, but technically don’t fit into the category. One popular example of this is Noopept.
So, now you know what the racetams are. They are simply a class of drugs that share a similar chemical structure. Many nootropics are racetams, but not all nootropics are racetams.
Below are three of the most popular nootropic racetams. Check them out to learn more about each one.