Last updated: April 6, 2017
Imagine being on a sea-faring ship in the early 20th century, your diet poor, disease rampant, and prospects of survival slim. Not a pleasant thought, but thousands of Japanese naval troops suffered beriberi due to a thiamine deficiency until sulbutiamine was synthesized in 1936 .
In the case of deficiency, consuming the nutrient thiamine (vitamin B1) does little because it does not easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Scientists discovered that sulbutiamine, two thiamine molecules together, could cross the blood-brain barrier and deliver thiamine to the brain to prevent fatigue, improve memory, and general cognitive abilities .
Even though most modern diets have vitamin B1, supplementing with sulbutiamine helps provide optimal levels of thiamine to support healthy brain function and reduce chronic fatigue related to deficiency. While sulbutiamine studies have existed since 1926, there is relatively little data on the smart drug when compared to modafinil, piracetam, and other popular synthetic options.
Also Known As
Arcalion, Enerion, Bisibuthiamine, Youvitan
Editors’ Thoughts on Sulbutiamine
I don’t have extensive experience with sulbutiamine, but when I did my results were mixed. When I take 200 mg I notice a subtle improvement to my mental energy, but it isn’t as strong as modafinil, phenylpiracetam, or even caffeine.
When I have taken 400 mg it seemed like I felt a bit anxious and sweaty. I am speaking of a single specific instance so it could have been confounded with other variables. Maybe it is my personal brain chemistry.
Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor
History of Sulbutiamine
As with many inventions of modern man, sulbutiamine came out of a military interest. The history of sulbutiamine is inextricably linked to the Japanese military and navy in particular . While many navies suffered from deficiencies, Asian countries suffered a lack of vitamin B1 specifically because of their dependence on white rice.
When naval surgeon Takaki Kanehiro noted a relationship between beriberi and the Japanese diet , he immediately set out to rectify the situation. Handed off to the Vitamin B Research Committee in Japan, thiamine and derivatives were derived for decades until discovery in 1926 and synthesization in 1936. It was used to stave off beriberi in the second world war and has remained useful (though under-studied) since then.
Benefits of Sulbutiamine
The main benefit of sulbutiamine is that it can increase thiamine (vitamin B1) levels in the brain. Specifically, it can do so 2.4 times better than taking straight thiamine itself . Thiamine is an essential nutrient that the brain needs to stave off fatigue (with small deficiencies) all the way to beriberi (with large deficiencies).
One study indicated that sulbutiamine was an effective neuroprotective agent. With thiamine nutrient deficiencies, there is a disruption of synaptic transmission. However, when taking sulbutiamine, it acts as a neuroprotective, saves the synaptic health, and the connections for the long term .
Another series of studies showed that sulbutiamine benefits include improved memory retention (and thus mental performance) . Another test showed object-recognition memory improvements through sulbutiamine studies.
Finally, the synthetic thiamine supplement is able to reduce fatigue by up to 91.37% of the participants who were tested . Considering chronic fatigue and stress are rampant in modern society (especially in the west), it is no wonder this smart drug is being utilized. While the study focused on individuals suffering from multiple sclerosis, it can be easily applied to healthy adults as well.
How Does Sulbutiamine Work?
In basic terms, sulbutiamine works by “tricking” the brain in order to allow more thiamine inside. Sulbutiamine is two thiamine molecules with a small structural difference and synthetically joined. By creating this molecule, it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and provide 2.4 times as much thiamine to the brain.
For people with deficiencies in thiamine, this nootropic substance is a godsend that can slip past the goalie to create positive change. This is often the case for people who are consuming a Paleo style diet. Most food sources of sulbutiamine are legumes, seeds, and processed foods like breakfast cereal. While a diet high in vegetables (such as spinach), can increase thiamine, it may be necessary to supplement.
The sulbutiamine can thus be an effective nootropic tool for certain dieters who consume primarily meat and vegetables without any processed foods.
Sulbutiamine Side Effects
The side effects of sulbutiamine, while rare, can still cause damage. One study of a bipolar individual found that sulbutiamine created addictive tendencies. This same study showed large doses affected the subject greatly, but this case study is not indicative of the general population and the drug .
Another side effect sulbutiamine is improved erectile function. According to an index of erectile function, the average score using sulbutiamine jumped from 17.5 to 24.8 on average . A single study is not conclusive, but it stands to reason that someone without this essential nutrient would be more healthy sexually.
Finally, some people experience anxiety or jitters when the sulbutiamine dosage is too great. The nootropic can be psychostimulatory so it may also cause insomnia if taken too closely before bed.
The studies on sulbutiamine are not as thorough as other nootropics, but 400 mg per day is pretty standard among nootropics users. The ideal regimen may also depend on the individual considering many sulbutiamine products come in 100 mg or 200 mg capsules.
Human studies provide supplementation at 400 mg per day range, but you must test for yourself what the right sulbutiamine dosage is. This sometimes depends on your diet and the thiamine that you have. Diets high in white rice (like the Japanese who invented sulbutiamine), may be at the lower dose range.
How and Where to Buy Sulbutiamine
The sulbutiamine nootropic has been relatively easy to find for sale on the internet. An online vendor that has sulbutiamine for sale should also include information about the provenance of the drug for your peace of mind.
The United States Food and Drug Administration considers sulbutiamine an over the counter nutritional supplement, but there are few brick and mortar stores that have it stocked.
If you’d like to buy sulbutiamine, you will find that the online marketplace is far more affordable, you have greater options, and may even be safer if you can find a certificate of analysis for both assay and / or heavy metals.
We suggest Pure Nootropics sulbutiamine capsules because of their additional third party certificate of analysis.
Selected Community Experiences
“I took sulbutiamine for the first time. I walked for 3 miles and window shopped. I enjoyed architecture. I had a pretty cool experience at a sub shop. I listened to emotionally evocative music. I felt pleasure at activities again. I took it again today. I am sitting at a farmers market and enjoying a river view.”  – hateboresme
“I took it at night because I really didn’t like how it made me feel while I was conscious. Just felt kind of apathetic and hazy, which is weird. I took between 300mg and 600mg right before falling asleep and I noticed my mornings were spectacular.”  – _julian
“Having suffered from constant fatigue especially this year, naturally I enjoyed the increased energy brought from the Sulbutiamine; I noticed how it helped with my verbal fluency, general clarity in sound” - Weevie
As with any nootropic, sulbutiamine reviews can be a useful way to understand the effects of the smart drug on others. Far from the only piece of evidence to make your decision, it is still useful given the lack of studies on healthy adults such as yourself.
Many of the sulbutiamine reviews online will give you a better picture of the drug and how it interacts with cognitive performance. If you are relying solely on the studies, the data will be skewed. The above mentioned sulbutiamine reviews can give clarity for your decision making, but take them with a grain of salt. As usual, anecdotal accounts can be full of embellishment and speculation as useful as they may be.
- References (Click to Expand)
- Inouye K, Katsura E. “Etiology and pathology of beriberi.” In: Shimazono N, Katsura E, editors. Beriberi and Thiamine Igaku Shoin Ltd (1965) p. 1–28
- Other Scientific Resources (Click to Expand)