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What is Noopept?
Noopept is an orally active nootropic peptide which is often (and erroneously) grouped in with the racetam family. Noopept is often purported to produce effects similar to those of piracetam but at a potency 1000 fold greater (Ostrovskaia et al., 2002). This comparison, while impressive, may not be entirely accurate. Other sources have shown that noopept is anywhere between 200 and 50,000 fold more potent than piracetam in it’s neuroprotective and anti-amnesiac effects (Jia et al, 2011). So although the exact figure of how potent noopept actually is, is still under investigation, it is safe to say that it is significantly more potent than piracetam. Noopept is unique from other peptides in it’s oral bioavailability, as most peptides most be administered by other routes to protect them from degradation by the digestive system.
In addition to it’s higher potency, noopept also appears to have superior neuroprotective capabilities. Noopept also differs from piracetam by producing several effects which piracetam does not. In addition to enhancing memory and learning, noopept has also been shown to exert anxiolytic, antidepressant, and psychostimulatory effects. Noopept’s anxiolytic effects have been demonstrated in otherwise healthy rats as well as cognitively impaired humans. Noopept’s antidepressant effects been demonstrated in the forced swim test (FST) an animal model of stress induced learned helplessness and depression. Reported psychostimulatory effects meanwhile, are primarily anecdotal, however in vitro studies have given some support to these reports by demonstrating that noopept can positively modulate neural membrane potential (i.e. bring neurons closer to depolarization). Noopept is still relatively under-investigated in the west as many of the studies are published only in Russian, but from the few English studies we do have, noopept seems to be a rather promising moodtropic and potential nootropic.
How does Noopept work?
Like piracetam (and most other racetams in fact), noopept’s direct mechanism of action is not fully understood. We do know a couple molecular effects that likely play a major role in noopept’s memory enhancing and antidepressant effects, even though we may not know exactly how noopept produces these molecular effects.
Following oral ingestion, noopept is rapidly metabolized into a neuropeptide called cycloprolylglycine. Noopept has a short biological half-life, and by 25 min following oral ingestion, there is no detectable noopept found in the blood stream. Because Noopept’s neurological effects (as measured by EEG changes) have been found to still be present at 70 min following oral ingestion, it is believed that it is not noopept per se, but rather it’s metabolite, cycloprolylglycine which is responsible for noopept’s effects.
One of Noopept’s (or cycloprolylglycine’s) main effects is it’s ability to increase the neurogenic factors BDNF and NGF (Nerve Growth Factor). BDNF plays a particularly important role in neural plasticity and subsequently higher levels of expression of this growth factor enhances learning, memory, and may help alleviate depression. Noopept’s influence on BDNF expression also is the source of it’s potent neuroprotective properties. This effect is one that occurs with chronic administration, and BDNF and NGF levels increase progressively over time. In addition, noopept has been shown to have a potentiating effect on cholinergic signaling. The cholinergic system is a modulatory system implicated in attentional control, prediction of uncertainty, and reward. This system consequently helps facilitate learning and memory.
Why is Noopept Worth Investigation?
Research on noopept is relatively sparse, and the scope of this research has been narrow. While the neuroprotective, antidepressant, and memory enhancing effects are promising enough on their own, there a. re other potential effects that have not yet undergone formal investigation.
Scanning through the first page of threads on r/nootropics under the search query “noopept” one effect people commonly mention is a unique kind of calming and pro-social effect. As described by noopept users, this effect sounds as though it may be functionally and qualitatively distinct from typical anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects. Here are some examples of people’s descriptions;
- “…Extremely comfortable in situations I used to feel awkward in.”
- “…Ability and willingness to empathize with people”
- “…willingness to interact that I usually would avoid”
- “…increased linguistic ability”
Another common theme people mention is enhanced control over one’s emotions; typified by reports like…
- “… an increase in my ability to be mindful of my own thoughts and feelings”
- “It allowed for a new perspective that let me see the anxiety was simply untrue…”
- “Noopept makes me feel like a robot…”
- “Noopept might be turning me into a Zen monk.
These claims have yet to be formally investigated but seem to be some of noopept’s more unique and consistent effects. It is very important to take all anecdotes with a grain of salt, as they are not derived from controlled experimentation, however when anecdotes consistently point to a potential effect, it should be taken as a cue for those effects to be tested so that they can either be verified or disproven. With more research we may be able to confirm or deny these or other effects, and further our knowledge of this nootropic.
Jia, X., Gharibyan, A. L., Öhman, A., Liu, Y., Olofsson, A., & Morozova-Roche, L. A. (2011). Neuroprotective and nootropic drug Noopept rescues α-synuclein amyloid cytotoxicity. Journal of molecular biology, 414(5), 699-712.
Ostrovskaia, R. U., Gudasheva, T. A., Voronina, T. A., & Seredenin, S. B. (2001). [The original novel nootropic and neuroprotective agent noopept].Eksperimental’naia i klinicheskaia farmakologiia, 65(5), 66- 72.