Sulbutiamine is a fat-soluble derivative of thiamine. It is considered a nootropic and antioxidant and is used in France to reduce fatigue. It also stimulates gut activity, improves muscle weakness, boosts memory, and protects the brain. Keep on reading to learn more about the health benefits of sulbutiamine, dosage, and possible side effects.
What Is Sulbutiamine?
Japanese scientists developed sulbutiamine in the 60s while exploring treatments for thiamine deficiency. Some brand names for this compound are Enerion and Arcalion [R].
Sulbutiamine is synthetically produced and is made by binding 2 vitamin B1 molecules together. Sulbutiamine is more fat soluble than thiamine, allowing it to pass to the brain easier (cross the blood-brain barrier) [R].
Mechanism of Action
- Increases thiamine (and thiamine derivative) levels more than thiamine itself [R].
- Increases dopamine (D1) and glutamate activity in decision-making regions of the brain (such as the prefrontal cortex) [R, R].
- Increases energy use in the brain (by increasing thiamine triphosphate) [R].
Health Benefits of Sulbutiamine
1) Boosts Energy
In a study of 1,772 patients (non-randomised) with infections and chronic fatigue, sulbutiamine (200mg twice a day) for two weeks (along with anti-infective treatment) helped with low energy. Fifty-two percent of the patients felt a significant boost in mood and energy [R].
326 patients with chronic fatigue (post-infection) were treated with sulbutiamine and a placebo (DB-RCT). Some individuals felt an energy boost from sulbutiamine, but the results were not significant [R].
Sulbutiamine boosted energy in 341 patients (observational study) with chronic fatigue diagnosed as asthenia (measured with a 44% decrease in their Fatigue Intensity Scores) [R].
Additionally, sulbutiamine treatment (400 mg daily for 1 month) greatly improved symptoms of severe depression, anxiety, and fatigue in most patients (75%) in a study of 40 participants (open-label) [R].
36 patients with chronic fatigue (caused by brain damage) were treated with either piracetam or sulbutiamine. Sulbutiamine was a more effective treatment than piracetam [R].
2) Improves Memory
Sulbutiamine (when used with donepezil) improved memory in a study (DB-RCT) of 26 patients with Alzheimer’s Disease [R].
3) Protects Nerves
Nerve damage can be caused by high blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. A 6-week treatment of sulbutiamine (400 mg daily) in 15 patients with diabetes (RCT) significantly improved nerve and muscle function (compared to a placebo group) [R].
4) Improves Sexual Performance
Sulbutiamine treatment for 30 days restored sexual performance in 16 patients out of 20 (open-label) with erectile dysfunction (caused by psychological issues) [R].
5) May Improve Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis
Fatigue is a major symptom of multiple sclerosis (MS). Sulbutiamine treatment (400 mg daily) for 2 months significantly improved energy levels of 20 MS patients [R].
An 8-week study (DB-RCT) evaluated the effectiveness of sulbutiamine in the treatment of fatigue in MS. Daily 600 mg doses improved fatigue in patients with fatigue who were on MS drugs [R].
6) May Improve Digestion
Some of the first studies on sulbutiamine proved it can help with digestion. In a study with 33 patients (RCT), sulbutiamine restored digestion after kidney surgery in 21 patients. Sulbutiamine also greatly improved gut flow in tissue studies [R, R].
7) May Protect the Brain
Nutrient-deprived brain cells treated with sulbutiamine lived much longer than cells that weren’t treated [R].
Additionally, sulbutiamine improved the lifespan of brain cells that were deprived of oxygen and sugar. It also increased activity in the memory-forming part of the brain (hippocampus) [R].
8) Is An Antioxidant
9) May Prevent Tissue Damage
A lack of oxygen in tissues may eventually lead to tissue damage (caused by reperfusion). Sulbutiamine protected brain cells from any damage after a period of oxygen deficiency [R].
Should You Take Sulbutiamine?
You can request that your doctor test your thiamine to see if you should take sulbutiamine. Conventional doctors will look at high or low thiamine levels and not mention anything. Sometimes, a lab result may be in the reference range, but not actually be in the optimal range. Reference ranges are not the same as optimal ranges. This is why even thiamine in the ‘normal’ range can be unhealthy and indicate that certain processes in the body aren’t optimal.
Side Effects and Risks
In general, sulbutiamine has few side effects with doses up to 600 mg/day [R].
Limitations and Caveats
- The majority of the human studies were carried out without control groups.
- Only a few studies assessed the use of sulbutiamine orally.
- Some benefits were demonstrated in animal and cell models but lack clinical data.
Drug and Supplement Interactions
Sulbutiamine and acetylcholinesterase inhibitors improve symptoms of early stage and moderate Alzheimer’s disease [R].
It is not advised to use sulbutiamine in conjunction with bipolar disorder medications [R].
When used with an antidepressant (clomipramine), 600 mg/day of sulbutiamine helped patients with depression recover faster [R].
The standard sulbutiamine dose is 200 – 600 mg/day. This dosage should be divided into 2 or 3 times a day [R].
On the other hand, irritability, insomnia, and euphoria are the most cited negative effects. In addition, some people do not feel any different while using sulbutiamine.
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