When it comes to nootropics, some of my favourites are the racetam family. These include things like piracetam, aniracetam, oxiracetam, and pramiracetam to name a few. Whilst many compounds come under the term nootropic, the racetams are what I consider to be true nootropics as they seem to have more direct effects on the brain then some other nootropics that have body wide benefits like fish oil does.
I have used racetams since about 2012 with great success. The main reason I started with them was to help recover from the 30 or so concussions I had throughout my rugby league career. In 2009 I was really struggling to recall things, I would have very severe mood swings, I would forget what I was talking about mid sentence, and a host of other issues like poor sleep. I was taking a few nutrients to help out with this such as fish oil, acetyl carnitine, alpha gpc, along with others. Piracetam was the first racetam I added to the stack and in just a few weeks I could really see a difference in how much more information I could retain and how much better I could articulate myself.
Charles Poliquin mentioned them in a seminar, and like most things in my life, I took note of this and then started taking them on his advice. I am very grateful I jotted down those notes as I think they have definitely improved my life.
I started with piracetam as it was the first racetam made and had a lot of research on it and it seemed very safe. From there I just rotated in other racetams as Charles advised so that I didn't get too used to the one form. This has worked well.
Personally, I loaded the piracetam for 5 days taking about 3,200mg a day and then dropped down to just one 800mg cap a day in the morning. Some people recommend loading with 3,000mg 3 times a day and then taking 1,600mg 3 times a day after that. This could be even better than what I have done but for me I am happy with the results. So, if you want to try those higher doses out you could, and you may get even better results.
Using them pre-workout in combination with alpha gpc, huperzine, and other nutrients has also helped with focus and drive during workouts. I much prefer nutrients for the brain then some commercial pre-workout formula that is loaded with stimulants and gives people the jitters.
With the racetam family of nootropics you can be much more specific with how you use them then the way I began taking them as well. For example David Tomen said that his favourite is aniracetam combined with sulbutiamine, used as an anti-depressant. Oxiracetam can help clear brain fog and improve focus and motivation, especially when learning new material. These are just a few examples. You can see a much more detailed breakdown of 7 racetams in David's article.
If you are an athlete, you should stay away from phenlypiracetam as it was on the WADA banned list when I checked last. As a rugby league player and then competing in jiu-jitsu I wasn't able to take this racetam as it has been shown to increase athletic performance. David has said that it has stimulatory effects and can help you resist cold. If you are not an athlete, this racetam seems to have many benefits so it may be something you want to look into further.
The racetams have many benefits and seem to have low risks of side effects. It is important to combine them with a choline source for best results such as alpha gpc. If you are looking for improved brain function then they are definitely something you should look into.