Summary

Sulbutiamine is a synthetic derivative of thiamine (vitamin B1) that was developed to address B1 deficiency and chronic fatigue.

It’s also a popular memory-boosting supplement that may enhance mood, motivation, and energy.

Sulbutiamine is a laboratory-created molecule consisting of two thiamine molecules bound together by a sulfur group. This structure makes sulbutiamine more bioavailable than ordinary thiamine and enhances its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.

The sulbutiamine molecule was initially discovered by Japanese researchers searching for a treatment for beriberi, a nervous disorder caused by thiamine deficiency.

Recent studies indicate that sulbutiamine has potential as a treatment for various types of chronic fatigue.‍[1]‍[2]‍[3]

Sulbutiamine may also benefit healthy people who don’t suffer from chronic fatigue and aren’t lacking in thiamine. It has been shown to boost memory and cognition by promoting increased production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and it may also improve mood and enhance energy by increasing levels of dopamine and glutamate.‍[4]

Benefits and Effects

Better Memory and Enhanced Cognition

Sulbutiamine effectively addresses cognition problems associated with thiamine deficiency but may also enhance memory and cognition in healthy subjects as well.

Early animal studies confirmed that sulbutiamine improved long-term memory formation‍[5] and enhanced both working and episodic memory,‍[6] enabling subjects to retain memories despite the administration of an amnesia-inducing drug.

A study involving early-stage Alzheimer’s patients showed that those who received sulbutiamine in addition to an Alzheimer’s treatment drug (donepezil) for a total of six months improved in episodic memory, attention, and daily life activities.‍[7]

The memory improvement demonstrated in the studies is likely due to sulbutiamine’s apparent ability to potentiate cholinergic transmissions, mainly in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex. An increase in available choline upregulates the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is strongly associated with all aspects of memory and cognition.

Increase Alertness and Energy Levels

Sulbutiamine has been successfully used to treat a variety of types of fatigue, including post-infection fatigue,‍[8] fatigue associated with multiple sclerosis,‍[9] and nonspecific functional asthenia, or fatigue and weakness not directly ascribable to any specific cause or illness.‍[10]

It’s believed that sulbutiamine’s fatigue-fighting capability is related to its ability to upregulate the production of glutamate, the most important excitatory neurotransmitter.‍[11]

Improve Mood and Reduce Anxiety

Many users say Sulbutiamine has a positive effect on mood and motivation, reducing anxiety and creating a general feeling of well-being.‍[12]‍[13]‍[14] Though this aspect of sulbutiamine has not been extensively studied, research appears to confirm these observations.

In addition to enhancing production of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate, sulbutiamine has also been shown to upregulate cortical transmissions of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, reward, and emotional responses.‍[15] Increasing the levels of these critical brain chemicals could be expected to enhance mood and motivation.

An 8-week study on patients with major depressive disorder concluded that while sulbutiamine had no anti-depressant effect, it did reduce psycho-behavioral inhibition and facilitated rehabilitation and resumption of normal life function.‍[16]

Treatment for Thiamine Deficiency

Sulbutiamine is an effective treatment for thiamine deficiency syndrome (beriberi), which can be triggered by a variety of causes ranging from simple dietary insufficiency to aging, illness, and even alcohol dependence.‍[17]

The symptoms of thiamine deficiency, including fatigue and muscle weakness, cardiovascular issues, and cognitive issues such as brain fog, disorientation, and memory loss, are effectively alleviated or reversed by the administration of sulbutiamine.

May Treat Psychogenic Erectile Dysfunction

In a 2005 Russian study involving 20 men with erectile dysfunction caused by psychological rather than physical factors, a 30-day course of treatment of sulbutiamine resulted in substantial improvement in 16 of the participants.‍[18]

How It Works

Sulbutiamine is a fat-soluble thiamine derivative that readily crosses the blood-brain barrier. In the brain, it stimulates the formation of thiamine triphosphate, which regulates the synaptic transmission of various neurotransmitters, including acetylcholine, glutamate, and dopamine.‍[19]

Sulbutiamine is considered a centrally-acting cholinergic agent, or substance that promotes the production of choline. It has been shown to inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, which breaks down the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and in so doing it prolongs the action of acetylcholine.

It is also believed to upregulate cortical transmission of both glutamate and dopamine, primarily in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus.

Sulbutiamine is rapidly absorbed after oral administration, widely distributed throughout the body, and excreted mainly in urine.

Onset of action is expected within one day, and the duration of action is about one day. It has a half-life of 5 hours.

Dosage

Human studies and clinical trials used a daily dosage of up to 600 mg,‍[20] and product information on sulbutiamine sold under the brand name Arcalion recommends a daily dosage of 400–600 mg for adults, over a period limited to 4 weeks.‍[21]

The safety and effectiveness of long-term use of sulbutiamine is unknown.

Tolerance to sulbutiamine is not documented in studies, however, it is anectodally reported.‍[22]‍[23]

Product information on Arcalion recommends a maximum length of treatment as just one month. Many users recommend taking sulbutiamine occasionally or in cycles rather than continuously to avoid tolerance.

Stacking

If you’ve read this far, you may well be wondering what supplements sulbutiamine best stacks with, in order to achieve the maximum positive effects.

Sulbutiamine + Huperzine A + Choline Stack

While one’s mileage may vary, a “starter’s stack,” consisting of sulbutiamine, Huperzine A and a choline source such as Alpha GPC may be a good start.

1–2x per day

Huperzine A is a supplement that is derived from the common herb known as Irish Moss. It works by slowing down the decomposition of acetylcholine. By ensuring an optimal level of this vital organic molecule, huperzine A helps to increase your ability to focus and concentrate.

Meanwhile, choline works in concert with Huperzine A and sulbutiamine to ensure maximum memory power and capacity for concentrated attention.

When it comes to pure concentrated choline content, Alpha GPC has the edge, as it contains 40 percent by weight. However, for individuals who are also seeking a supplement to augment their capacity for motivation, as well as provide relief from anxiety, citicoline may be the better choice, due to its effect on the dopamine receptors in the brain.

Sulbutiamine + Aniracetam + Choline Stack

Sulbutiamine also stacks well with the racetam class of nootropics. Among the racetams, stacking sulbutiamine with aniracetam is a common choice due to aniracetam’s similar effects on cognition and mood, really enhancing overall effects.

1–2x per day

Side Effects

Sulbutiamine is generally considered safe and well tolerated when taken in moderate amounts over a limited period of time.

No toxicity has been recorded.

The only side effects reported are a mild and transient headache, stomach upset, and sleeplessness.‍[24]

Where to Buy

Sulbutiamine is available in two distinct forms: capsules and bulk powder. According to your preference and budget, you may choose either of these two. Buying the supplement in loose bulk form is much cheaper than capsules, but if you find capsules more convenient, the option exists.

We recommend Double Wood Sulbutiamine from Amazon.

Alternatively, we recommend purchasing sulbutiamine and any other nootropics from PureNootropics.net as they are a reputable source for supplements.

Closing Thoughts

Sulbutiamine is a powerful supplement that has been tried and proven over decades of research and practical use.

It’s known to treat several specific types of fatigue, and both user self-reports and scientific studies confirm that can boost memory, cognition, mood, and motivation. It’s generally accepted as safe and well tolerated, and it’s available everywhere.

If you’re looking for a known and respected cholinergic to compliment the other supplements in your nootropic stack, sulbutiamine is one to consider.

References   [ + ]

Planning to start a new supplementation regimen? See our medical disclaimer.

This page was last updated on December 10, 2018.