Reasons and ways to take methylene blue
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This article is based on my research of information from publicly available sources and my personal experience. The information, opinions, and references provided in this article are for informational purposes only. This article does not endorse any products. This article is not a medical advise and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prescribe for any illness or condition. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-diagnosis or treatment based on anything you have seen or read in this article. Please consult your doctor or healthcare provider for your specific diagnosis and treatment.
Methylene blue has been around in the medicinal use for over 120 years:
That’s a nice spiel but unless you have a genetic mutation which predisposes you to a neurodegenerative disorder (such a double copy of Apoe4 gene which increases risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 10-fold), you probably don’t care that much about neurodegenerative disease prevention.
I certainly do care about minimizing my risks of neurodegenerative disorders (one of the top-5 killers) that’s why methylene blue has been on my radar. But I also don’t like to take things for granted and prefer to dive deeper myself. The good news is that methylene blue is a potent nootropic (disclosure: this article is written with a healthy dose of methylene blue).
Methylene blue acts by enhancing the mitochondrial function in the brain:
Methylene blue has a hormetic response curve - at low doses it produces a beneficial type of stress called hormesis but at high doses it loses its effectiveness. Hormesis is activated via PGC-1a pathway which leads to growth of new mitochondria in a process called mitochondrial biogenesis. Higher density of mitochondria in a cell has been linked with stronger health and longer lifespan. You can read more about mitochondrial biogenesis including PGC-1a pathway in the longevity principle #4.
Methylene blue is different from other nootropics which often work by increasing neurotransmitter synthesis and neural signaling.
Methylene blue improves attention, memory, and concentration by increasing energy production by mitochondria in neurons and improving oxygen delivery.
In two human clinical trials in 2016 and 2017, low dose Methylene blue has been shown to enhance resting-state functional connectivity in brain regions associated with a visuomotor task and linking perception and memory functions.
To say that simply - it connects the left and the right parts of the brain. This makes you both more creative and more logical.
Methylene blue also reduces the activity of the default mode network (DMN). This is a part of the brain that’s most active when we are at rest and least active when we concentrate on a task. So methylene blue reduces the activity of this brain region, thus, helping us concentrate. Modafinil has been shown to have a similar effect.
By reducing the activity of the default mode network, you get into the flow state.
In addition, methylene blue may improve motivation and have antidepressant effects by leading to increased levels of dopamine and serotonin, respectively. It does this by inhibiting the monoamine oxidase A (MOA), responsible for a breakdown of neurotransmitters, and, thus, increasing the levels of neurotransmitters.
Methylene blue benefits are not limited by its nootropic effect. It attenuates neuroinflammation by improving integrity of the blood-brain barrier so that the bad inflammatory compounds from the blood do not enter the brain. It also protects neurons from potential damage caused by mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress.
Long-term, it supports cognitive enhancement by promoting neurogenesis (birth of new neurons) and mitochondrial biogenesis (birth of new mitochondria), delaying cellular senescence (formation of old and dysfunctional cells), and potentially protecting from neurodegenerative diseases of aging.
The bottom line is that methylene blue provides both immediate benefits and long-term benefits.
Immediate benefits of methylene blue:
Long-term benefits of methylene blue:
If you read methylene blue reviews on reddit, you will notice that many people report limited to no effects from taking methylene blue. That’s likely related to 2 issues:
I can describe concentration from taking methylene blue as being very smooth (as if you had a long walk and feel refreshed). As mentioned above, my doses range from 20 to 50 mg. Sometimes, I combine it with nicotine for an immediate effect from nicotine and prolonged effect from methylene blue.
Pro-tip: combine red-light therapy with low dose methylene blue to achieve synergistic effects. Both interventions act on Cytochrome c oxidase in mitochondria upregulating mitochondrial respiration.
Buying methylene blue is easy but finding a high quality product is not. Methylene blue has been traditionally used as an industrial dye where high level of impurities (namely, heavy metals) is not an issue. It’s certainly an issue if you plan to put it in your body. Never buy or consume methylene blue unless you’ve seen results of impurity testing or plan to test it yourself.
Generally, there are 3 available forms of methylene blue:
As mentioned above, I do not endorse or recommend any products not do I recommend taking methylene blue. But folks might want to know which products I use, so here they are: science.bio for liquid and powder and troscriptions for troches.
Taking a liquid MB is quite impractical due to staining and taking troches is impractical due to high cost (for effective doses), I ended up creating my own recipe.
Step 1. Put these ingredients in a blender:
Step 2. Mix the ingredients in a blender for 60 seconds.
Step 3. Pour the resulting liquid into a candy mold and put in a freezer for 2 hours.
Step 4. Enjoy. I may take up to 3 candies per day.
Methylene blue is an interesting compound because it provides both immediate benefits and long-term benefits (including prevention or reduction of risks of neurodegenerative disorders; although it’s unlikely to treat neurodegenerative disorders). There are hundreds of studies on methylene blue including clinical trials.
Methylene blue is safe in low doses but should not be taken with drugs that increase serotonin levels (MAO inhibitors, SSRIs, SNRIs, psychedelics, etc.). Impurity with heavy metals is also a concern unless properly tested.
Methylene blue gives a nice concentration boost but, unfortunately, due to its coloring abilities is not practical to take if you take a lot of video calls. Let’s wait on more innovation in this area and hope that someone introduces a convenient form of this product. Though it may take a while - the issue is that a status of methylene blue is a grey area. Methylene blue is actually a drug that is commonly used to treat urinary tract infection and methemoglobinemia. It could be grand fathered by FDA if someone has taken or sold methylene blue prior to 1994 when the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act has been established. However, it is unlikely that someone can prove that.