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CITICOLINE AND THE BRAIN

On July 7, 2012, in A FEW OF MY THOUGHTS, Natural remedies, by Dr. Tuchinsky

The new kid on the block.  I recently came across citicoline when I was providing medical consults to patients in the world famous Texas Institute of Rehabilitation and Research. At first I was confused – I have never heard of this drug before. I tried to look it up in my electronic pharmacopeia and it wasn’t there. And yet it was prescribed to a staggering number of victims of stroke and head trauma on every floor.  Whatever it was, the world’s leading institution in brain rehabilitation seemed to believe in it. It was time for me to find out more about this miraculous citicoline.

What does it do?   Citicoline is classified as psychostimulant but unlike other stimulants, its effects are rather subtle. The mechanism of action is complex and has to do with protection of neuronal phospholipids and reduction of oxidative stress. The substrate provides choline – the vital building block for brain’s crucial neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Use of citicoline appears to slow down progression of Alzheimer’s disease. Citicoline also increases  dopamine via a different mechanism, and therefore can also alleviate Parkinson’s disease and cravings in cocaine addiction. In addition, it has been shown to improve vision in glaucoma and other eye conditions. There are also some studies that suggest citicoline improves mental focus and can be useful in the treatment of ADHD.

Manufacturing and Dosing.  Citicoline is sold as a nutritional supplement in US (sold under brand name Cognizin, NeuroAxon or Somazine) but it is a prescription drug in many European countries. The recommended dosage is 500-2000 mg daily.

What’s in it for you?   The question relevant to us is whether citicoline can help with the brain fog that an otherwise healthy person may experience due to fatigue. Will it make anybody sharper and more focused or does it only work in people who had brain damage? (Remember, most studies were done on stroke victims and Alzheimers patients and not on general population.)

My conclusion.  The product reviews on Amazon seemed to be a little underwhelming. The good news is there doesn’t seem to be any serious known side effects  and the price is reasonable, so I’m still going to go ahead and give it a try. I will post an update about my experience later.    READ MORE

 

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

5 Responses to CITICOLINE AND THE BRAIN

  1. Marina says:

    Very interesting post. As a layperson, when I see a new supplement I usually look it up on Dr. Weil’s site (whom I would like to believe) and quackwatch (to balances out wishful thinking about magic potions). Didn’t see citicoline on either, so I’m looking forward to an update.

  2. Dr. Tuchinsky says:

    Marina, thank you for looking into this. Now,I feel better about trying it out :)

  3. Hello Dr. Tuchinsky!
    I am a psychiatrist and started taking citicoline about 8 weeks ago, in hopes of improving my short term and working memory. I also have ADHD, inattentive type, and take prescription Vyvanse. I have noted my word recall has improved and my overall executive functioning may be around 10-15 % better since starting the citicoline at 250mg in the am. My husband started taking 500 mg in am at the same time and he notes a possible improvement in attention with his EMR system. He used to muddle through his notes in the evening, now he seems to keep up with them better during the day, despite no difference in patients seen.
    I found your posting on the topic and am curious what you have noted after being on the citicoline!
    Jean Helmbright md

  4. Dr. Tuchinsky says:

    Dr. Helmbright,
    That is very interesting, thanks for sharing your experience. I haven’t taken citicoline for very long because I got pregnant so I’ve stopped temporarily due to lack of safety information but while I was taking it I did notice a mild improvement in alertness and mental clarity. I haven’t done any objective tests to quantify it. I’m curious how long were you and your husband taking it before you noticed the improvement.

    Irina Tuchinsky

  5. Jean Helmbright says:

    I just noticed you had responded, guess I was assuming I would get an email notification. So sorry I haven’t followed up until now!
    My husband states he noticed a mild improvement in his ability to focus after three weeks, and seemed to increase until about 6 weeks. Nothing has seemed to further improve, but he still completes his work more efficiently and gets home earlier for that reason (it used to be late, then he would to finish his emr).
    I started taking the 500 mg in the am a couple months ago like him. I am still distractible as always:), but I continue to not “lose words” as often and I feel I am more verbally fluent overall. I actually am enjoying working with students more now as I can “lecture” on topics in a more linear fashion. It does seem I do not put off work projects as much as can organize a bit better, but that is hard to say for sure. I still struggle with my short term memory but that has been since childhood, definitely annoying but I am so used to it by now and I’m sure would be better with the distractibility better controlled. My psychiatrist thinks I should go up on the vyvanse, but I’m hoping that being more consistent with exercise will continue to strengthen those neural pathways:)
    Yes, I wish there were more objective studies on this and congratulations on pregnancy!
    Are you aware of any new studies on “healthy” subjects using citicoline? I will be checking as I may increase my dose to 500 mg bid to see if it helps any more with the aforementioned problems! My husband is happy with what it’s done for him and wants to stay on the 500 mg q am for now.
    Jean Helmbright

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