Memantine: Review of Nootropic Benefits, Uses, Dosage, & Side Effects

Updated on March 21, 2024
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)
An abstract representation of Memantine's cognitive enhancement benefits and its uses in nootropic therapy.

If you’re navigating the complexities of Alzheimer’s disease, Memantine may have surfaced as a beacon of hope in your research.

As a medication known for its role in managing cognitive symptoms associated with various forms of dementia, Memantine stands out in the pharmacological landscape for its NMDA (N-Methyl-D-Aspartate) receptor antagonism.

Memantine offers a unique approach to neuroprotection and symptom management in Alzheimer’s disease, differentiating itself from traditional treatments like cholinesterase inhibitors.

With this knowledge at your disposal, you are better equipped to make informed decisions about your or your loved one’s healthcare journey.

In an era where precision medicine is key, this post aims to demystify this brain health drug’s utility and safety profile, providing you with clear insights into how Memantine could fit into a comprehensive treatment plan.

What is Memantine?

Memantine (also known by brand names Ebixa, Namenda, Nemdatine, or Valios) is an oral tablet that serves as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease-related dementia. Unlike Donepezil, another Alzheimer’s medication, memantine functions primarily through NMDA receptor antagonism.

Chemically, it’s known as 3,5-dimethyladamantan-1-amine hydrochloride, this medication falls under the category of NMDA receptor antagonists. It works by blocking certain receptors in the brain to which glutamate normally attaches.

Memantine is a derivative of adamantane, which is a bulky, cage-like hydrocarbon. The adamantane structure is a key part of its chemical identity, contributing to its unique pharmacological properties. The molecular formula of memantine hydrochloride is C12H21N•HCl.

As a hydrochloride salt, memantine hydrochloride is more soluble in water than its base form, which aids in its absorption and bioavailability when taken orally.

What makes this drug so popular?

When you use Memantine, it helps to stabilize cognitive function.

Patients often experience improvements in attention and memory. This is due to its action on glutamatergic systems that are critical for these mental processes.


  • Approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to treat Alzhimer’s disease
  • Enhances memory, concentration, mental clarity, and overall cognition
  • Slows the progression of cognitive and functional decline
  • Neuroprotective properties that can help protect brain cells from damage


  • Effectiveness can vary greatly among individuals
  • In rare cases, it can cause more serious side effects such as shortness of breath, heart failure symptoms, or seizures

Mechanism of Action

How does Memantine solve memory problems?

Well, your brain relies on neurotransmitters like glutamate for learning and memory processes. However, excessive amounts can lead to overactivation of NMDA receptors, potentially causing neuronal damage.

This is where Memantine plays a crucial role.

Memantine selectively inhibits NMDA receptors, moderating glutamate’s effects. This selective blockade allows for neuroprotection without completely impairing glutamate’s essential role in learning and memory.(1)

The action of Memantine is subtle yet significant. Unlike some medications that completely block receptor activity, Memantine has a low affinity for NMDA receptors.

This means Memantine does not shut down all glutamatergic communication but rather moderates it to prevent damage while allowing normal neural activities.

Overall, Memantine’s selective blockade helps maintain cognitive function. Its pharmacokinetics are favorable; the drug doesn’t bind too tightly or too loosely.

Nootropic Benefits of Memantine

Memantine, primarily used to combat Alzheimer’s-related dementia, has been noted for its nootropic benefits.

As a drug falling under the NMDA receptor antagonists class, it operates uniquely within the brain.

Here’s a closer look at the key nootropic effects of Memantine herbal supplements.

1. Improved Memory and Recall

By stabilizing abnormal electrical activity and reducing excessive calcium amounts in the brain cells, Memantine improves cognitive functions such as memory and recall.(2)

This improvement is not just theoretical; many patients have reported noticeable enhancements in day-to-day cognitive tasks.

2. Enhanced Cognitive Function

Memantine improves cognitive function, particularly in neurological conditions where cognitive impairment is a symptom. Its action on NMDA receptors helps regulate glutamate, which is crucial for cognitive processing, focus, and mental stamina.(3)

3. Neuroprotection Against Excitotoxicity

Memantine has neuroprotective properties. It protects neurons from glutamate-induced excitotoxicity, which is beneficial in slowing the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.

4. Mood Stabilization

Some studies suggest that Memantine may have mood-stabilizing effects, which could be beneficial in mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder.(4)

5. Reduction in Symptoms of ADHD

There is evidence that Memantine may help reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), possibly by modulating neurotransmitter activity.(5)

6. Potential Benefits in OCD Treatment

Memantine offers benefits in treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) by affecting the glutamatergic system, which is thought to play a role in OCD.

7. Reduction in Tolerance to Various Drugs

Memantine might reduce tolerance to certain drugs, such as opioids and stimulants, by its action on NMDA receptors. This can help in maintaining the effectiveness of these drugs at lower doses.

8. Improvement in Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Preliminary research suggests Memantine could improve certain symptoms in autism spectrum disorders, possibly by correcting imbalances in glutamatergic neurotransmission.(6)

Uses of Memantine

Memantine has multiple uses in the realm of clinical use, such as the following:

  1. Alzheimer’s Disease: Memantine is used to manage symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. It helps in slowing down the progression of memory loss and cognitive decline associated with this condition.
  2. Dementia: Specifically, it treats moderate to severe dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease. It’s important to note that while Memantine can manage symptoms, it is not a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
  3. Cognitive Function Improvement: Memantine aids in improving or maintaining cognitive function and the ability to perform daily activities in individuals with Alzheimer’s disease.
  4. Neuroprotective Effects: It has neuroprotective properties that may benefit patients with other forms of dementia, although this is a less common use.
  5. Off-label Uses: Memantine is sometimes used off-label for conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Certain neurological disorders, like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis, for symptom management.

Where to Buy Memantine

Your primary option is local pharmacies. They offer the benefit of immediate access once you have your prescription. However, prices may vary between locations.

Online pharmacies are another choice. They often provide competitive pricing and convenience. Before purchasing, ensure the pharmacy is reputable and verify its licensure status with regulatory bodies.

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Memantine Dosage

When considering Memantine as a nootropic, you should be aware of its various forms.

These include an immediate-release tablet, an oral solution, and an extended-release capsule. Each form offers different advantages in terms of release time and convenience.

  • Immediate-Release Tablet: Typically, the starting dose is 5 mg once daily. The dose may be increased in 5 mg increments to a maximum of 20 mg per day, taken as divided doses. Commonly, the maintenance dose ranges from 10 to 20 mg per day, divided into two doses.
  • Oral Solution: The oral solution is usually provided for those who have difficulty swallowing tablets. The dosing is equivalent to that of the immediate-release tablets. It’s important to use the provided dosing device for accurate measurement of the liquid.
  • Extended-Release Capsule: For the extended-release formulation, the typical starting dose is 7 mg once daily. The dose may be increased in increments of 7 mg to a maximum of 28 mg once daily, based on tolerance.
  • Switching from Immediate-Release: Patients switching from immediate-release tablets to extended-release capsules may start with a dose equivalent to their total daily dose of immediate-release formulation.

General guidelines include:

  • Gradual Increase: The dose should be increased gradually to reduce the risk of side effects.
  • Consistent Timing: Memantine should be taken at the same time(s) each day to maintain an even level of medication in the blood.
  • With or Without Food: It can be taken with or without food.
  • Missed Dose: If a dose is missed, don’t double up the next dose. Instead, skip the missed dose and resume the regular dosing schedule.

Memantine Side Effects and Safety

Memantine may lead to various side effects. Understanding these side effects is crucial for managing your treatment effectively.

Common side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • High blood pressure
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue

Do not drive or use machinery whilst under the influence of Memantine. This is particularly dangerous when you first begin your treatment and your body is still adjusting.

Serious adverse effects requiring immediate medical attention include:

  • Mood changes
  • Severe stomach pain
  • Allergic reactions

If you experience any of the above, stop taking Memantine immediately.

The safety of Memantine in pregnant or breastfeeding individuals has not been established. It should be used only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus or infant.

Other precautions include monitoring for skin reactions, regular kidney function tests for those at risk, and caution in patients with severe liver impairment.

Additionally, Memantine may interact with other medications, including certain antibiotics, antifungal medications, and medications for irregular heart rhythm. Consult your healthcare provider for a complete list of potential drug interactions.


Memantine is a medicine you might know as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors prescribe it to manage moderate to severe dementia symptoms. You may find memantine in various forms: immediate-release tablets, oral solutions, and extended-release capsules.

The way memantine works is by targeting certain brain receptors. It blocks these sites where the neurotransmitter glutamate usually binds.

This action helps reduce glutamate’s harmful effects on the brain which can improve memory, awareness, and the ability to perform daily activities.

When considering taking Memantine or if you’re already using it, knowing its potential impact on your day-to-day life is crucial. Users often report feeling drowsy or dizzy after taking this drug. Headaches and confusion are also common complaints among patients.


How long does Memantine take to work?

While some individuals may notice minor improvements in cognition or mood within the first month, it typically takes several weeks to observe the full therapeutic effect of memantine.

What is the elimination half-life of Memantine?

Memantine has an average elimination half-life of about 60-80 hours. This duration may vary slightly among individuals due to factors like age, kidney function, and dosage taken.

Should you cycle Memantine?

Yes. However, if you decide to cycle Memantine, do so under medical guidance. Your doctor will advise on safe intervals for cycling off and resuming treatment.

Can I stack Memantine with other nootropics?

Yes. A common stack includes cholinergic, like Alpha GPC or CDP-Choline which support memory functions that Memantine also targets. Avoid mixing substances that have similar mechanisms of action as this could lead to an overload effect or increased side effects.

How should I store Memantine?

Storing Memantine correctly is crucial. Keep it away from light and moisture. Ensure the storage temperature stays between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C). Extreme temperatures can affect memantine’s potency. 

Sources, Studies, and Scientific Research
  1. Rammes, G et al. “Pharmacodynamics of memantine: an update.” Current neuropharmacology vol. 6,1 (2008): 55-78. doi:10.2174/157015908783769671 ↩
  2. Liu, Jinping et al. “The Role of NMDA Receptors in Alzheimer’s Disease.” Frontiers in neuroscience vol. 13 43. 8 Feb. 2019, doi:10.3389/fnins.2019.00043 ↩
  3. Hosenbocus, Sheik, and Raj Chahal. “Memantine: a review of possible uses in child and adolescent psychiatry.” Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry = Journal de l’Academie canadienne de psychiatrie de l’enfant et de l’adolescent vol. 22,2 (2013): 166-71. ↩
  4. Serra, Giulia et al. “Memantine: New prospective in bipolar disorder treatment.” World journal of psychiatry vol. 4,4 (2014): 80-90. doi:10.5498/wjp.v4.i4.80 ↩
  5. Mohammadi, Mohammad Reza et al. “Memantine versus Methylphenidate in Children and Adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: A Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial.” Iranian journal of psychiatry vol. 10,2 (2015): 106-14. ↩
  6. Brignell, Amanda et al. “Memantine for autism spectrum disorder.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews vol. 8,8 CD013845. 25 Aug. 2022, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD013845.pub2 ↩