COLURACETAM: The $16,000 Antidepressant
This Japanese-developed Racetam is one of the latest Nootropics to be inspired by Piracetam.
In 2005, the Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharmaceutical Corporation registered Coluracetam and began studying its potential usefulness as an Alzheimer’s disease treatment. Although the results of the company’s clinical trials were not what they had hoped for, there were still some potential benefits associated with this substance. Therefore, BrainCells Inc. took over the licensing for Coluracetam, and they conducted testing that showcased this racetam’s potential as a way to help people who are combating anxiety and major depressive disorder.
This article is mostly going to focus on decoding what the human data is saying about Coluracetam and how this squares up with the anecdotal experiences of the Biohacking community. For more of my own personal experiences, thoughts, and comparisons please see the written and video reviews of the different products in the sidebar.
A Novel Racetam
Phase II for BCI-540, which is now known as Coluracetam, included some positive results. Patients were treated with 80 mg of BCI-540 three times per day for six weeks as a way to test whether or not it can improve the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. At the end of the trial, the patients who had taken BCI-540 reported a 17 percent higher reduction in symptoms. However, this does not appear to have been strong enough for BrainCells to move forward with their testing. Instead, nootropic enthusiasts have now begun embracing Coluracetam for the numerous user reported benefits.
It’s a newer drug and currently just has a handful of scientific literature on Pubmed, most of the studies are focused on its choline uptake mechanism, Choline is the building block of the ACh system.
One of the most notable studies into Coluracetam focused on the possibility that it could be one of a new class of antidepressants. Although the final results found that future research is needed to conclusively link everything together, there is some evidence that Coluracetam can act as a rapid antidepressant.
Ketamine and other potential glutamate antidepressants. - PubMed - NCBI
Psychiatry Res. 2015 Jan 30;225(1-2):1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2014.10.028. Epub 2014 Nov 13. Review
Aside from its popular name and BCI-540, Coluracetam can also sometimes be found listed in medical studies as MKC-231. Unfortunately, the minimal amount of testing that has been conducted with this substance primarily focuses on rats, but it is still possible to learn about potential nootropic benefits by studying this information. For example, a study that was published in 1996 points out that MKC-231 was able to provide a significant improvement in learning deficits without causing notable side effects.
The data from human research is limited to the Phase 2 clinical trial done by BrainCells Inc, on approximately 100 suffering patients on the depression-anxiety spectrum. From the press release of the trial:
…scientific research of neurogenesis using its [Coluracetam’s] proprietary neural stem cell platform technology to identify novel compounds for the treatment of central nervous system (CNS) diseases, announced today findings from an exploratory, dose ranging Phase 2a clinical trial…
Carrolee Barlow, M.D., Ph.D., chief scientific and medical officer at BrainCells, stated:
“…Neurogenesis is an exciting new field that is demonstrating potential in many different CNS diseases including depression and anxiety…”
The press release concluded:
Experiments conducted by BrainCells confirmed appropriate changes in behavioral models for depression, without affecting serotonin levels, potentially eliminating side effects typically associated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac
Mechanisms of Action
The clinical trials that were conducted by Mitsubishi and BrainCells Inc. helped determine Coluracetam’s mechanisms of action. Interestingly, this nootropic was found to be a high-affinity choline uptake enhancer. In other words, Coluracetam can actually make the flow of acetylcholine (ACh) within brain synapses move more quickly than usual. This is important to note because researchers have linked ACh to memory and learning.
Choline uptake enhancers are believed to have the potential to offer permanent benefits. At least one study has also indicated that Coluracetam’s reported anti-depressant benefits could be due to the way this nootropic impacts the brain’s AMPA and non-NMDA glutamate receptors.
The Phase 2A trial of it, which focused on effects on anxiety, explains its two mechanisms of action:
BCI-540 [COLURACETAM] is a bifunctional molecule that works to treat mood disorders through two mechanisms of action, AMPA potentiation and choline uptake enhancement. BrainCells identified through its platform the compound’s ability to help new neurons differentiate and survive, two important aspects of the neurogenesis process.
User Reported Benefits
Nootropic users who have added Coluracetam to their regular routine have stated that this supplement offers a variety of benefits, including increased memory and focus, along with a reduction in anxiety and depression. Based on the mechanisms of action, it can also be determined that Coluracetam is highly likely to enhance the high-affinity choline uptake. This makes the nootropic a strong cholinergic. Additionally, some review websites have mentioned that Coluracetam appears to be a good stacking supplement due to reports that it can enhance the nootropic effects of other racetams.
Many user reviews point out Coluracetam’s potential to impact everything from mood to visual clarity.
- “I noticed a change in vision, colors do seem more saturated, cognition became more lucid, uplifted feeling. I feel lucid and calm. Working memory is better.”
- “Today’s dose fixed a bout of minor drowsiness/bad ST memory.”
- “Per cognition, the effects at 20mg seem similar to what pramiracetam did to me at larger doses. Calm, focused, easier access to memory. But pramiracetam has its negatives, while coluracetam so far does not. This seems like one solid racetam to me.”
- “Feelings of contentment, peace and increased ease around others and life in general is noticeable. Sometimes I have some situational social anxieties, but they essentially disappear with 30mg.”
My biohacker review of Coluracetam
The Unusual Path from Test Substance to the Latest Nootropic
Most nootropics have been tested extensively for a long list of potential benefits, and they are also relatively easy for people to find. However, Coluracetam was sitting stagnant in 2012 when a nootropic enthusiast who goes by the handle of ScienceGuy made the decision to fund the future development of this product. This was announced via the LongeCity forum, and numerous people were given the opportunity to try Coluracetam for free.
As previously indicated, the reviews were primarily favorable, and this undoubtedly caught the attention of major nootropic retailers such as Nootropics Depot. It is now possible to find Coluracetam from reputable sellers, and this means that ScienceGuy’s contribution to the world of nootropics was definitely a fruitful one.
Pricing and Sources
Yes, it’s very expensive, in fact, gram for gram it may be the most expensive smart drug on the planet, this is because it’s a very complex synthesis process that takes 6 months and requires exhaustive quality control to avoid toxic impurities. You want to avoid Coluracetam of Chinese origin as their quality control standards are not sufficient.
So is it worth it?
Yes, at least according to ScienceGuy who spent $16,000 to create the initial batch of the stuff which he altruistically distributed to the biohacker community. His conclusion was:
“Without a doubt, COLURACETAM’s pharmacological effects appear to be significantly more potent, profound and widespread than all the other RACETAMS.”
Coluracetam by Nootropics Depot
By Jonathan Roseland Connect I filmed my vlog about this drug in front of the Parliament Building in Bucharest…
The utility that Coluracetam offers breaks down like this…
A certain segment of Biohackers has an obsessive interest in optimizing Neuroplasticity, which depends profoundly on the ACh system. This concerns Biohackers that are into rapid language acquisition, recovering from brain damage, going through really hardcore graduate programs to attain a specialized STIM field degree, training for a memory competition, or maybe they want to teach themselves echolocation. BrainCells Inc advises that benefits to this effect will require at least 4 weeks of dosing:
Neurogenesis is an exciting new field that is demonstrating potential in many different CNS diseases including depression and anxiety. BCI-540 began to separate from placebo by four weeks, which is in line with our understanding of how neurogenesis progresses in the brain.
Self experimenters on Nootropics commonly report things like:
Reds are redder
The blue sky is bluer
Music and bass is more pronounced
My vision is higher resolution
The world is more alive
Anecdotally, these effects are especially acute and vivid on Coluracetam, which may make it valuable to those whose recreational and professional pursuits benefit significantly from a heightened sense of things, such as:
Archers and marksmen
Artists and musicians
Photographers and videographers
Athletes, Martial artists, and fighters
Here’s what OpaqueMind had to say about this:
“I noticed increased sociability, mildly increased abstract reasoning skills, massive mental relaxation and a profound effect of visual acuity and appreciation of natural and intricate forms. At one point I was enraptured by a passing cloud for a few minutes, just absolutely lost in its beauty and complexity.”
You, like myself, just like to try new drugs, throw strange molecules at your neurobiology and see what happens.
A self-experimenter on LongeCity describes being on Coluracetam as being almost trippy:
“My vision, mostly outdoors, now pretty much always appears in high definition HDR with a bit of…an indescribable magic/fantasy/artistic look to things… I suppose almost exactly the same as a low low dose of a psychedelic, no distortions just a very similar if not better extreme enhancement of vision that also makes things, mostly nature, have that indescribable awesome looking feel…”
They go on to describe partying on Coluracetam:
“I went to two concerts and the music and lights, while awesome anyway, were incredible… it was like a low-medium dose of mdma or other serotonin+dopamine releasers except without the euphoria and mostly in those respects.”
You’ve tried everything else. It has a unique Choline uptake mechanism so if you’ve tried everything else to biohack your memory, anxiety or depression and have been disappointed thus far Coluracetam is worth a try.
While you don’t have to spend $16,000 to try Coluracetam, it’s definitely not cheap. Also probably not a good beginner’s Nootropic, if you are completely unacquainted with cognitive enhancers I recommend beginning with either the Piracetam Protocol or the Caballo Protocol.
Even though BrainCells Inc. apparently gave up on the idea of marketing Coluracetam as a new antidepressant, their research and many anecdotal reviews make it clear that this nootropic has the ability to help users by offering a calming effect. It has also been noted by some people that taking 20 or 30 mg per day is a viable option for reducing the issues associated with anxiety.
Prescription antidepressants can be accompanied by a long list of side effects, including sexual dysfunction, insomnia, and weight gain, so it is no wonder that people look for alternative options. Lithium Orotate is another natural substance that is believed to help regulate mood and anxiety. Some people have reported receiving positive benefits by stacking a variety of nootropics such as Coluracetam together, and this could be a good option for people who are unable to take antidepressants because of serious side effects. Additionally, individuals who have minor anxiety and depression issues may prefer to take a more natural approach.
It’s frequently described as being a more tranquilizing Nootropic experience then Racetams are typically, to quote brokenyoga:
“Sometimes I have some situational social anxieties, but they essentially disappear with 30mg. I was in a cellphone store for two hours waiting to receive a phone upgrade, and yet I was okay with this. My internal dialogue was forgiving of the employees for their slowness, and I enjoyed talking to the people there more so than I normally would have.”
It’s a cream-white colored powder with a taste similar to Pramiracetam, which for the unacquainted is very bad, like eating an angry live Afghan camel spider covered with Habanero sauce, which is why I recommend washing it down with something of equally strong taste, like coffee or juice. It’s not something you will want to put in your morning shake.
Since it’s so expensive you will probably want to take it sublingually — under the tongue — to maximize absorption.
It’s a faster burn, it kicks in after about 30 minutes and its cognitive enhancement effect declines after 3–4 hours, which is why biohackers well acquainted with it take it several times a day.
BrainCells was giving test subjects up to 240 mg per day, spread out over three doses. Biohackers dosed themselves in much lower amounts though, as low as 10 mg per dose.
Due to this, it is best to stack Coluracetam with Choline, Alpha GPC or another known ACh precursor. Anecdotally, it’s supposed to be a marvelous potentiator of Oxiracetam, the discipline molecule.
ScienceGuy suggests that a stack of…
Taken several times a day (spaced out by 4 hours approximately), is an astoundingly enhancing Nootropic stack without equal.
Ultimately, the side effects that have been reported with Coluracetam are mild to non-existent, they did not report any noticeable issues as a result of this testing period. Most nootropic user reviews are based around a smaller dosage ranging from 10–30 mg, also spread out over multiple doses a day. However, as with any other racetam, it is possible that you could experience headaches while taking Coluracetam.
A very interesting purported side effect is that it supposedly reverses caffeine tolerance, users report rediscovering the energizing glory of what was often the first love of their lives as Biohackers, coffee. To quote the mindful Introspecta:
“Its effects were what someone mentioned as cleaning up the rough edges of caffiene. I felt more clear and lucid…”
Conflicts: According to self experimenters online, does NOT stack well with Piracetam or Pramiracetam.
The relatively limited amount of research into this nootropic makes it difficult to know for certain exactly what its potential benefits and any related side effects could be, but so far, Coluracetam appears to be a solid member of the racetam family. Make sure to start off with a small dose and work your way up until you find the right amount to fit your needs.