What is Memantine (Namenda)?
Memantine, also known under the drug name Namenda, is a powerful nootropic that was first created in 1968 and is used as a prescription drug in the U.S. and Europe for the treatment of moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease (AD). (1)
Many drugs and supplements that have shown efficacy against AD have also been found to promote cognitive benefits for the younger, healthier population.
As a nootropic, neurohackers use Namenda to help promote a positive mood, reduce anxiety, boost concentration, and relieve symptoms of ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and depression. While some will use it for memory, that is not a very common use for this nootropic.
In the nootropic community people seem to either love this drug or hate it. Many find its impact on hard-to-treat conditions like ADHD and depression well worth the risk of side effects, while others prefer to use something with a more conservative safety profile.
There are few other nootropics where you will find so many users that swear by it with so many others taking the opposite stance.
There is a lot of research when it comes to using Memantine for Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD, with small studies showing benefits for a wide variety of disorders that are linked to glutamate activity in the brain. As for nootropic benefits, there are not many studies, so user reviews can help to shed light on its effects.
How Does it Work?
Glutamate is an excitatory chemical that is used for communication between nerve cells.
Memantine works through blocking the NMDA receptors in the brain, reducing excessively glutamate activity that has been tied to Alzheimer’s disease, OCD, and many other conditions.
It still allows normal glutamate function, it just stops excessive glutamate activity that is associated with damage to brain cells.
Memantine Uses: What is Memantine Used For?
As a nootropic, users have reported benefits of this drug as follows:
- Relieves anxiety
- Helps with OCD
- Enhances focus and ADHD symptoms
- Promotes a positive mood
Improves Focus and Helps with ADHD
In one study on children diagnosed with ADHD, it was found that both 10 mg/day and 20 mg/day of Memantine led to improvements in ADHD symptoms. (7) This included improved ability to focus and concentrate as well as a decrease in hyperactivity and impulsivity. These benefits were dose dependent, with significantly better response in the 20 mg/day group.
Neurohackers often report an improved ability to focus when taking this nootropic, although studies have not been conducted on either adults with ADHD or healthy adults.
Even with the lack of studies, many adults suffering from ADHD still turn to this drug due to the limited effectiveness of prescriptions and the side effects that come from substances like Adderall.
One of the cognitive benefits confirmed in younger patients of this drug was as an anxiolytic.
In a study on 15 participants suffering from anxiety, it was found that 10 weeks of between 5 and 20 mg/day resulted in a statistically significant reduction in anxiety symptoms as compared to before starting therapy. (5) 40% of these patients achieved remission of their anxiety.
In the human study that found this drug to help reduce anxiety, those participants were found to experience better quality sleep when treated daily with Memantine. (5)
There have been numerous studies supporting the benefit of this drug for those suffering from depression. In one study, it was found that major depressive symptoms began improving in less than one week, with maximal improvement by the end of the study at 12 weeks. (7)
Another study found that 26 weeks of Memantine 20 mg/day combined with Escitalopram 20 mg/day led to improvements in anxiety and depression in adults with major depressive disorder and alcohol dependence. (7)
As many antidepressants come with dangerous side effects such as suicidal thoughts, this nootropic may offer a safer alternative.
When it comes to cognitive benefits, Memantine is best known for helping to improve the cognitive deficits caused by Alzheimer’s disease, mainly through helping reduce the associated memory and learning impairment. (1,2) These benefits are so pronounced that it is the only drug known to help reduce clinical deterioration in those with moderate-to-severe AD. (1)
While there have not been studies confirming whether or not these memory benefits extend to the healthy human population, there are some user testimonies stating just that. (3) Even if it does so, there are other nootropics that have a more pronounced benefit on memory and learning in healthy adults.
This drug may help to reduce memory decline with age, particularly in those with existing conditions such as dementia.
Reduces Headaches and Migraines
If you are someone who suffers from frequent headaches or migraines, you know how debilitating these conditions can be when it comes to making the most out of your day and achieving your goals.
Studies have found this drug to help reduce the frequency of treatment-resistant cluster headaches and migraines.
In one study of sixty patients, migraine frequency was found to be reduced by 3.4 migraines each month, an impressive and statistically significant result when compared to placebo. (14)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
In one double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled human study of 40 adults suffering from OCD, it was found that memantine, when used in concert with the prescription drugs already taken by the patients, led to a statistical improvement in OCD symptoms in comparison to the prescription drugs alone. (4)
Very promising results have been found in studies of people suffering from bipolar disorder. (7) Improvements were found in both mood stabilization and reduced manic events, with more than 70% of patients in one study who were using this drug in combination with their existing treatment experiencing significant improvement after one year of use.
Numerous studies have even found Memantine to be helpful when used in combination with existing medications for those suffering from schizophrenia. (7) This benefit was not seen when used on its own, only when with existing medications.
In human studies Memantine has been found to help with even more conditions than those listed above, including its ability to (7,8,9,11,12,15):
- Reduce binge eating in those with certain eating disorders (may help to control certain food cravings and overeating)
- Improve memory, lethargy, hyperactivity, and irritability associated with autism spectrum disorder
- Act as a potential treatment for those with opioid dependence
- Reduce care dependency and improve general function of those with dementia
- Decrease PTSD symptoms while also improving memory, mood, and focus
This is a very long and impressive list of conditions that human studies have found Memantine to be helpful for. While much more research is needed before a doctor will prescribe this compound for many of these conditions, many people who are struggling with a variety of cognitive conditions may find relief with addition of this powerful nootropic.
Memantine HCl Side Effects
With so many benefits for mood and memory disorders, the nootropic community tends to assume that this drug comes with high risk of side effects.
While user reviews appear to support this theory, the vast majority of studies have found treatment with Memantine to be generally well tolerated, with very few patients experiencing adverse effects (9).
- Trouble sleeping
- Increased libido
Much of the bad rep when it comes to side effects is thanks to very common side effects that users tend to experience right off the bat when taking Memantine.
About half of study participants have reported mild dizziness, fatigue, and more rarely nausea the first few days and up to one week after beginning supplementation that tends to disappear after that initial period.
There was one study conducted on mice that found this drug to actually reduce neuroplasticity and lead to memory impairment. Other studies have yet to duplicate this, and with positive effects found on the cognitive ability of those with dementia and AD, there appear to be many benefits for cognitive function.
For a complete list of Memantine side effects, their likelihood, and severity, click here.
Memantine Reviews & User Experiences
Thanks to the proven effectiveness of this drug to help treat those with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease, the vast majority of scientific research that has been completed has been on the elderly population.
User reviews can help us to fill in the gap between research, theories in how it may work in other populations, and actual experiences for those using this drug for its nootropic benefits.
“Memantine is the best treatment I have ever tried for ADHD. If you have ADHD, you need to try this...I’ve been on Memantine at 10mg/day for over a month now. I can focus better, it’s easier to motivate myself to get things done, and I’m procrastinating much less than I used to. -Reddit user review
“I’ve been taking 5mg of memantine before bed and it has been doing wonders for my anxiety and depression. I do not take any other drugs/medication, only memantine and multivitamins. -Reddit user review
“I’m still adjusting to 20mg, but I spent about 6 weeks at 10mg and I like memantine quite a bit. It seems to improve my ability to deal with stress and reduces rebound anxiety when I use things like pregabalin or alprazolam.” -LongeCity user review
“I’ve been taking the standard 20mg dose for maybe a couple of months now. Memantine is not particularly motivating by itself, however it seems to reduce brain fog and allow me to think more clearly. It may not work as well in the young and completely healthy, but for me it noticeably enhances cognition.” -LongeCity user review
When starting to supplement with this nootropic, it is especially important to start low and work your way up, thanks to the difficult first few days that many users report.
A typical dose for nootropic use is around 2.5-5 mg/day, however some report that taking this drug every other day can lead to fewer side effects. This could be a 5 mg dose every other day until you see how this drug affects you.
If you are looking to treat a specific condition, such as ADHD or Alzheimer’s disease, you may find more luck with higher doses.
Typical dosage for ADHD is closer to 20 mg/day, which was shown in one study on ADHD in children to be more effective than 10 mg/day for symptom relief. (7)
Alternatives to Namenda
Most of those who use Namenda for nootropic benefits do so for the benefit of another condition, such as depression and ADHD. There are other nootropics that have been found to be helpful for these conditions
Alternatives to Memantine for ADHD
Modafinil is one drug that has been found to benefit those with ADHD, and it does so without the same risk of addiction as amphetamines. (16) It works differently than either Memantine or typical therapeutic agents, so it may be a good option for those who have not found success through other avenues. This drug is very well tolerated with few side effects and other cognitive enhancing effects.
Selegiline is a drug commonly used for dementia and Parkinson’s disease that has shown promise in one small human study on ADHD. Children treated with this drug found improved ADHD symptoms with few side effects.
Alternatives to Memantine for Depression
One great natural supplement option for those with depression is Bacopa Monnieri. This has been used for improved mood for thousands of years. It is an adaptogen that has been shown to work as well as numerous depression medications.
Another common option when using nootropics for depression is Aniracetam, which many users report to work incredibly well to help relieve depressive symptoms.
Where to Buy Memantine
This drug is most commonly acquired in the US and Europe through a doctor prescription, particularly for use for Alzheimer’s disease and ADHD. In fact, many users report ditching the strong stimulant Adderall for Memantine for ADHD treatment - if you are interested in doing so, your doctor may be able to help you.
Luckily, for neurohackers, there is a way to safely acquire this drug without a prescription. You can find off-label Memantine through Ceretropic, a reputable online vendor.
Memantine is not your typical nootropic. It works differently from most of the nootropics on the market, and the majority of benefits seem to help those that are suffering from conditions such as stress, depression, and OCD.
Some people have found luck using this drug as a treatment for ADHD. There are even some doctors that have prescribed it for these purposes.
If you do decide to supplement with this nootropic, remember that the first few days to one week are commonly plagued by mild side effects, such as headache and dizziness.
- Memantine in moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s Disease https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa013128?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3dwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Memantine for dementia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16034889
- Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and memantine for neuroenhancement in healthy individuals: a systematic review https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20193764
- In a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial, adjuvatn memantine improved symptoms in inpatients suffering from refractory obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23525525
- Memantine as an augmentation therapy for anxiety disorders https://www.hindawi.com/journals/crips/2012/749796/
- Role of glutamate and NMDA receptors in Alzheimer’s disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5791143/
- Memantine: a review of possible uses in child and adolescent psychiatry https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3647634/
- The NMDA antagonist memantine attenuates the expression of opioid physical dependence in humans. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11512037
- A H-MR spectroscopy study of changes in glutamate and glutamine (Glx) concentrations in frontal spectra after administration of memantine https://watermark.silverchair.com/bhp145.pdf
- Memantine affects cognitive flexibility in the Morris water maze https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21860092
- Memantine in severe dementia: results of the 9M-Best Study (Benefit and efficacy in severely demented patients during treatment with memantine) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10885864
- Pilot trial of memantine in the treatment of PTSD https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17661541
- Memantine for prophylactic treatment of migraine without aura https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26638119
- Memantine for prophylactic treatment of migraine without aura: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26638119
- Memantine for posttraumatic stress disorder in an older veteran https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22051925
- Efficacy and safety of modafinil…. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16322134
- Selegiline in the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder… https://www.selegiline.com/adhd.html
- Anxiolytic-antidepressant activity of Withania somnifera... https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11194174