The Nootropic and Antiageing Benefits of Methylene Blue


Methylene blue (MB) is known as the dye used to colour your fabrics and faded jeans.  Methylene blue also has biological applications in humans, but recently, it has gained particular interest as a nootropic (a substance that would enhance the cognitive functions of the brain) and anti-ageing agent (1).

Apart from industrial uses as a dye, other frequent applications are related to medical-hospital treatments:

  • As an antiseptic to treat minor wounds and prevent infections.
  • As a medical diagnostic tool to identify leaks in the urinary and digestive system.
  • To combat methemoglobinemia, a disorder that hinders the transport of oxygen in the blood.
  • Other studies also suggest that it may help treat low blood pressure by improving oxygen flow and circulation problems, especially in people undergoing septic shock or with severe liver disease.
  • MB may serve as an alternative treatment for Lyme disease (an infection caused by a tick bite), particularly for antibiotic-resistant strains, and in fact has been shown to be effective when combined with certain antibiotics.
  • Also, for pain relief and reduction of inflammation: The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of MB may help control chronic pain and reduce inflammation throughout the body.
  • It is now re-emerging as a potential treatment for malaria due to drug-resistant strains and as a way to combat other antibiotic-resistant infections as well.
  • According to an article by Dr Joseph Mercola, MB is a very effective agent against urinary tract infections (UTIs). Many elderly people are given antibiotics, which alters their microbiome. MB was used for many decades at a dose of 65 mg per day and was even sold in pharmacies as Urolene Blue.

As your body does not actually metabolise it, it is excreted by the kidneys into the bladder, where it reaches very high concentrations over time and becomes a potent oxidative stress that kills virtually any pathogen in the bladder. It has the additional "side effect" of improving brain health and reducing dementia. According to Dr Mercola, "it is reprehensible medical malpractice not to use MB in elderly UTIs. It is clearly the safer and more effective drug of choice."


What's all the fuss with methylene blue (MA) as a nootropic and anti-ageing drug?

The recent emergence of MB as a nootropic is what has caused biohackers (individuals who apply techniques and tools to optimise body, brain function and quality of life), social media influencers and other anti-ageing advocates to set their sights on this product.

One of the main reasons is its benefits as a health and wellness supplement. This versatile compound acts as a cellular energiser, boosting the body's natural powerhouse: the mitochondria. This translates into a number of attractive benefits:

MB It is being used as a cognitive enhancer to improve memory, mood and prevent the build-up of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s, but also as an anti-ageing skin enhancer. Let's see how this happens.


How the Impressive Effects of MB Take Place in Your Body

In an interview by Dr Joseph Mercola with Dr Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, the latter explains the mechanisms by which AM acts with its unique electron-level quality:

"Our body uses electrons as part of the electron transport chain that occurs within the mitochondria, and these electrons, which move along the mitochondria, are generated from electron donors that we produce from the food we eat."

González-Lima explains that the food we eat donates electrons that are transported into the mitochondria.  The main electron acceptor in nature is oxygen, so when electrons are removed from a compound, this process is known as oxidation.

In the mitochondria, specifically, this process is called "oxidative phosphorylation". Electrons are coupled to the phosphorylation of adenosine to ultimately produce the molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). MB functions as an electron cycler (i.e. it can accept and donate electrons).

MB then performs TWO IMPORTANT FUNCTIONS: it donates its electrons directly to the electron transport chain, but it also obtains electrons from surrounding compounds and maintains oxygen consumption and energy production.  By doing this, it helps oxygen to be completely reduced to water.

This simply means that MB acts as an antioxidant because oxygen is neutralised in water by donating electrons to the electron transport. But it also produces energy, because when the electron transport pumps are moving along oxidative phosphorylation, you get an increase in ATP formation.

Often, we have things that enhance energy metabolism, but then cause oxidative stress. In the case of MB, this is not the case.

Healthy people consuming low doses of MB could then increase their oxygen consumption, mitochondrial respiration and ATP production in the body.  This would result in a significant improvement of their metabolism.

The action of MB on mitochondrial respiration is also combined with biochemical regulation of overall oxygen consumption and processes that increase local blood supply to tissues.

According to Gonzalez-Lima, "this regulation remains even after the MA has been expelled from the body (mainly through urine, as it is minimally metabolised by the body) and over time can increase the number of mitochondria.  In the brain, this will benefit cognition, as the brain is the most energy-dependent organ in the body."


Benefits of MB

Enhancing Cognitive Function

Research suggests that MB can improve memory and attention by increasing the energy output of brain cells.

As well as influencing neurotransmitters that regulate mood, MB is being considered as a promising alternative to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

MB may help prevent neurodegenerative disorders by reducing oxidative damage to brain cells, thereby participating in the prevention of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

Recent studies in animal models of Alzheimer's disease have shown that MB can slow the formation of amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (study). In addition, a drug derived from methyl bromide has been shown to be beneficial for both Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal dementia (Lewy body disease) and is currently in the final phase of clinical trials.


Improving Mitochondrial Function

But MB doesn't stop at the brain.  It turns out that its effects go all the way to the mitochondria where it may have a youth-promoting effect by enhancing mitochondrial function and promoting cell turnover or mitophagy. (study)

MB is a very attractive supplement because of its positive influence on the mitochondria of cells, which are like the "power plants" of our body.  Mitochondria convert the food we eat into energy through a process called oxidative phosphorylation, which uses an electron transport chain to produce the necessary energy, as mentioned above, but it should be noted that MB has a beneficial effect at low doses, a phenomenon known as hormesis, and can be detrimental at high doses.

At high doses, MB can interfere with the energy production process in the mitochondria. So, bear in mind that, in adequate amounts, MB can even benefit people with various health problems.

According to several experiments, MB can "redirect electrons in the mitochondrial electron transfer chain directly from NADH to cytochrome oxidase (complex IV), increasing complex IV activity and effectively promoting mitochondrial function while mitigating oxidative stress".  In other words, MB has demonstrated remarkable properties that help limit cell damage and enhance metabolic capabilities within the mitochondria of cells. (article)


Fitness and Sports Performance

Of course, if your mitochondria are functioning optimally, your physical and, better still, sporting activities will benefit. 

  1. By increasing energy production because, as we saw earlier, MB optimises the electron transport chain, which generates ATP (adenosine tri-phosphate). Increased ATP production can enhance athletic performance, reduce fatigue and, of course, accelerate recovery from training.
  2. MB can improve your cardiovascular endurance because it increases oxygen transport to the muscles as it has the ability to promote the release of nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates blood vessels and improves blood flow.
  3. It remains to be shown whether MB can enhance the function of motor neurons, which are responsible for transmitting signals from the brain to the muscles. This could lead to increased force generation during exercise.  However, studies have so far been done in rodents and have not shown a significant effect.
  4. MB may help reduce muscle damage and inflammation as a result of intense physical training as it is involved in neutralising free radicals and exerts an anti-inflammatory action.


Delay Skin Ageing

Cellular damage or mitochondrial dysfunction has been observed in systemic ageing affecting various tissues of the body and particularly evident in brain function and skin health.

Here MB is potentially entering the anti-ageing arena as, in terms of skin health, it increases collagen and elastin production, improving the appearance of the skin and treating conditions such as psoriasis. (study)

By increasing mitochondrial functions and ATP (adenosine triphosphate) production, these factors would help to keep skin cells healthy and ultimately combat skin ageing.

On the other hand, it would increase cell lifespan, i.e. a sufficient number of cells would be maintained, which would reduce ageing markers in skin cells.

Also, due to its antioxidant properties and its ability to scavenge free radicals, it would balance skin deterioration.  Signs of skin ageing refer to wrinkles, skin pigmentation and slowing of wound healing capacity (study)(study).



As Dr Gonzalez-Lima puts it, the benefits of methylene blue MB start to be noticeable from doses of between 0.5 milligrams to 4 mg per kg of body weight.  He admits that lower doses may work but has not tested them.

For acute treatment, the upper limit is between 3 mg and 4 mg per kg, which is usually the range administered as an intravenous antidote for methaemoglobinaemia. For non-acute, more long-term treatment, 0.5 mg to 1 mg per kg per day works best.   MB has a half-life of 12 to 13 hours (presence in the body), so a daily dose is fine.  Therefore, for a person with a body weight of 73 kg (160 lbs.) this translates to 36 - 290 mg of MB.  For a person weighing 52 kg (52 kg) this would correspond to 26-210 mg of MB.

The equivalent of 0.5mg of a dose of MB is a safe dose and allows you to perceive the benefits.

Gonzalez-Lima gives the following example of how MB has been used in the treatment of fears and phobias:

"One of the processes in which memory formation can be used therapeutically is when a memory is formed to extinguish fear. Individuals who have a phobia can be exposed to the specific situation that is involved in the phobia, and a learning called extinction learning takes place that extinguishes their response.

In that situation, we only give MB once after this extinction learning to facilitate the memory consolidation process. What happens after the learning is the consolidation process, which requires energy.

So, by facilitating the availability of energy during the consolidation phase, which occurs over several hours, the next time [they are exposed to fear-provoking stimuli], the person has consolidated that extinction memory more effectively."

Finally, Dr Gonzalez-Lima recommends taking MB with some ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to facilitate absorption.  You won't find MB at your local pharmacy, but many supplement pharmacies can obtain pharmaceutical grade.

"Ascorbic acid is one way to facilitate the MB cycle by promoting MB reduction," he explains. Considering the importance of mitochondrial health, MB appears to be a simple and very effective way to improve overall health and cognitive function.



According to Dr Scott Sherr in an article published on, as a precautionary measure, due to the risk of serotonin syndrome (which can be fatal), MB should not be combined with drugs that increase serotonin levels. 

For psychonauts interested in using MB, Sherr warns, psychedelic substances such as psilocybin, which increases serotonin, or the yagé/ ayahuasca served in these ceremonies have similar properties to MB so after the ceremony one should wait 24 hours before consuming MB again.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women please refrain from consuming MB.

At high doses, i.e. >10mg/kg body weight, MB can cause a list of undesirable effects such as hypertension, methemoglobinemia (a condition it actually treats at low doses), nausea, gastrointestinal distress, induce haemolytic anaemia in patients with a genetic condition called G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency), and more.

Finally, please do not drink the aquarium or fish tank cleaning liquid! While it is true that it contains methylene blue, these products sold for tank, aquarium and fish tank cleaning also contain cadmium, iron and other heavy metals that can be very harmful to your body.  Furthermore, when purchasing an AM methylene blue supplement, please make sure that it has been tested for purity and provenance.





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