Methylene Blue


People new to nootropics and smart drugs may find the idea of consuming fish tank cleaner a bit too risky, but modern methylene blue research is showing how effective this compound can be for neuroprotection and cognitive enhancement.

First prepared as a stain in 1876 (hence the blue name), the true biochemical name is methylthioninium chloride. Despite humble origins, methylene blue has been researched as a way of increasing short-term memory by up to 7% [1]. Other evidence suggest methylene blue can prevent cognitive decline [2].

Although still in the research phase for low-dose methylene blue, numerous members of the Reddit and Longecity communities have adopted usage of the drug for cognitive enhancement purposes.

Also Known As

Methylthioninium chloride, Cl 52015, MB

Editors’ Thoughts on Methylene Blue

I’ve never tried it, but I have had the opportunity to interview and speak with F Gonzalez-Lima, one of the main researchers in the field of methylene blue. It seems like low-dose methylene blue is effective as a neuroprotective agent, but it seems to do so via hormesis. Essentially, it stresses out the brain just enough to get a reaction (to make it stronger), but not enough to make it sick.

The dosing of methylene blue scares me a bit only because I’m ignorant and find so many various reports. Some people recommend incredibly small doses and then others are taking high doses. Everyone on Reddit seems to think they are a biochemist as well, which makes it hard for me to decipher what is true and not.

I’m not yet at an age where the neuro-protective effects seem enticing enough to use methylene blue, but I suspect there will be a time and hopefully the dosage and research will be clearer.

Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor

Benefits of Methylene Blue

Some of first benefits of methylene blue relate to memory formation and retention. A 2004 study in Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior showed that methylene blue could improve memory retention by 66% compared to 31% for the control [3]. The study focused primarily on memory retention after being mentally impaired in some way.

The more recent evidence of methylene blue focuses on the benefits for neuroprotection. Methylene blue can help to prevent neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia [4].

Most of the benefits of methylene blue come from increased mitochondrial health. Like CoQ10, which is a general mitochondrial support supplement, taking methylene blue helps the cells produce more energy (ATP) [5].

For general cognitive health and neuroprotection, mitochondrial health is one of the most important functions. Methylene blue can significantly increase the health of your mitochondria and, if early evidence is to be believed, your cognitive abilities in general [6].

How Does Methylene Blue Work?

There are a few hypotheses about how methylene blue improves neuroprotection and memory. One clear benefit from methylene blue is that it enters neuronal mitochondria and donates electrons. This enables the mitochondria to work better and protect brain cells and neuronal connections [7].

As early as 2005, scientists also hypothesized and confirmed that methylene blue improves memory retention by increasing oxygen utilization in the brain [8].

Side Effects of Methylene Blue

If taken at a low dose from a good source, there are relatively few side effects of methylene blue. The problem with using methylene blue as a smart drug is that it is often difficult to accurately dose. Dosage recommendations vary widely depending on the person and goals. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help the average nootropic user get started.

One important thing to note is that even pharmaceutical grade methylene blue can contain impurities like arsenic, aluminum, mercury, or lead [9]. The side effects of heavy metals poisoning are quite severe and long-term.

Finally, because methylene blue is an MAOI (mono-amine oxidase), it can interact negatively with some drug metabolism [10]. Make sure you aren’t taking other MAOIs where there may be a dangerous interaction.

Methylene Blue Dosage

Finding the right methylene blue dosage is more difficult than most. Some evidence shows a dosage of 3 – 4 mg / kg of bodyweight [11]. This is most useful for acute doses.

The products intended for human consumption (though they say they are not) tend to dose around 0.5 mg of methylene blue per day for chronic use.

However, many people within the Reddit and Longecity communities go as high as 10 mg and even 90 mg of methylene blue [12]. The acute studies of 3 – 4 mg / kg had doses of up to 210 mg, though this could be toxic if the methylene blue product is not of sufficient quality.

Again, keep in mind the risks associated with even high grade methylene blue. This is one of the reasons why people take doses under 1 mg.

How and Where to Buy Methylene Blue

There are many ways to buy methylene blue online, but most of them are going to involve making your own solution. The best way to do this is through a measured dropper and distilled water.

You can also purchase methylene blue from sources like Ceretropic. This is probably a safer option if you have never made your own solution or methylene blue before.

Selected Community Experiences

Seems to be doing something. My Dual N back scores are up. My social anxiety also seems to be getting better…” [13] – kanooker

I'd love it if one of the reliable vendors started stocking it so people could experiment safely. Aside from the possible solvent issue, MB generates ROS under some spectrum of light (don't recall off the top of my head, but I think near-IR is fine, and I'm on mobile). So, direct sun exposure is probably bad…I used some of the bluebrainboost MB to disinfect my mouth after chewing a salad leaf with a slug. It's effective against some parasites. Brain destroying parasites aren't cool…” [14] – shrillthrill

References (Click to Expand)
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