An energy-enhancing vitamin that improves your “mental stamina” and provides a near-instantaneous memory and mood boost?
That’s the promise of Sulbutiamine, a synthetic chemical with similarities to Thiamine.
Unlike its natural counterpart, though, Sulbutiamine is supposed to have stimulating and brain-altering effects that make it suitable as an overall mental and cognitive performance enhancer.
Does it live up to the hype?
Let’s find out.
Discovered in Japan during the 1930s, Sulbutiamine was developed as a possible treatment for the Thiamine deficiency that was prevalent in many Asian countries at the time. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in the chemical because of its possible use as a performance optimizing compound. In addition to possibly being able to treat Alzheimer’s and diabetic nerve pain, proponents believe that Sulbutiamine can offer some marked cognitive enhancements. Specifically, they claim that it has a nootropic effect—increasing one’s mood, memory, and other cognitive processes—while simultaneously helping to relieve fatigue and provide a noticeable energy boost.
Indeed, Sulbutiamine has some therapeutic uses (specifically, Asthenia), but as its status as a nootropic has mixed levels of enthusiasm. Some are all on board, citing its use in competition sports and known pharmacological abilities. Others urge caution, as much of the information about the drug is not properly cataloged, many of the newer claims about its capabilities have not been thoroughly tested, and the compound can interfere with other medications and treatments.
While those groups duke it out, Sulbutiamine is perfectly legal to obtain in the United States, both under the brand name Arcalion and as a generic supplement available via the internet. It typically comes as capsules of varying strengths but is also available as a powder. Interesting to note is that Sulbutiamine is most often taken as a part of a stack, rather than used in supplementation by itself. Still, there’s no denying that it has some effects on the human body, even when used alone.
Sulbutiamine is most often referred to under its brand/generic names like Enerion, Bisibuthiamine, Megastene, Neuro-Up, or Youvitan.
I was fairly curious as to what this experience was going to be like. I had heard about cases of “Sulbutiamine Euphoria” and a heightened state of energy that some users had reported. This, however, was tempered by some preliminary research I read describing the effect as nothing more than a little vitamin boost. I was wondering which version of events would play out in my case, and so ordered some 200 milligram capsules from the net.
The information I read mentioned that about 400 milligrams daily was a good starting point, but that the ideal dose from person to person (for nootropic supplementation) was not yet understood. I decided to take three capsules and waited. It didn’t take long—in about 30 minutes started to feel an uptick in mood.
It wasn’t the extreme euphoria I had read about elsewhere, but it was a noticeable boost in confidence and motivation. I got about my daily routine and seemed more capable of working with more efficiency and purpose. I didn’t do anything out of the ordinary during my workout, which was somewhat disappointing. I had read a lot about athletes using Sulbutiamine to improve performance, but perhaps that had nothing to do with physical enhancement and just meant boosting their concentration so that they could stay on task during competition? I did feel that my mind wandering less, which was very helpful.
Either way, the effects of the Sulbutiamine seem to have lasted for several hours then trailed off with no crash. I kept this routine up for a few weeks, with similar success, but nothing quite like the first day. In fact, the effects evened out pretty hard after a few days. I tried it with a few other compounds, which did augment the effects somewhat, but again, Sulbutiamine on its own definitely lost its pep after the first few tries. Still, I think this could be a good part of a carefully crafted stack, and that there’s cause for further research into all the benefits Sulbutiamine may have to offer.
From what I can tell, most folks across the internet are in love with Sulbutiamine. To varying degrees, of course, but in love with it all the same. I’ve seen comments about it helping with mood and depression, improving energy levels, and, in general, being a helpful supplement:
“What a great decision. Dosage was 300mg twice a day. Effects were nearly immediate. Wakefulness, energy, confidence, very positive mood. Another poster described a feeling akin to “a swagger” and I wholeheartedly agree.”
Others were careful to note that in some cases there were side effects and they did have to watch out for interactions with other treatments and medications. There was also mixed reporting on the development of a tolerance level. For some, the effects leveled out quickly (as they did for me) others reported no tolerance forming. Others still said they developed some tolerance to Sulbutiamine, but with careful dosing, tricks were able to continue experiencing heightened effects.
Many of Sulbutiamine’s effects are mental/cognitive in nature. By stimulating certain activities in the brain, this chemical is supposed to be able to function as a potent optimizer.
This might be Sulbutiamine’s primary selling point. You’ll hear stories of this chemical being distributed in the club or party scene as a mood drug. There are also plenty of anecdotal reports of individuals using Sulbutiamine to fight depression and other states of lowered mood.
There is mixed agreement from researchers in this regard. While some studies have shown that “taking Sulbutiamine daily for 4 weeks improves one aspect of depression called psycho-behavioral inhibition,” no research is available showing that it can combat other facets of depression effectively.
Still, the anecdotal evidence given is vast. You don’t have to look far for stories of people talking about how it boosted their mood and confidence levels. How or why that is happening, though, requires further study.
The second part of Sulbutiamine’s appeal comes in the form of cognitive enhancement. It’s believed that this chemical can make you think better, in part by improving your memory. There might be some truth to that, as at least one study has shown that Sulbutiamine can enhance long-term memory formation.
The study, which involved mice supplementing with Sulbutiamine for a ten day period, found that the participants of the study showed improvement when trying to attempt a task they had some previous familiarity with (compared to control test subjects who had not received Sulbutiamine). In the researcher’s opinion:
“The present findings and previous results suggest that sulbutiamine improves memory formation and that this behavioral effect could be mediated by an increase in hippocampal cholinergic activity.”
This is bolstered by anecdotal reports in which numerous users claim that they are able to perform mental tasks better and have an easier time of recalling important information.
Sulbutiamine is also supposed to fight fatigue, granting you a boost of energy even though you might not feel as if you have any left. This is a commonly held sentiment among those who use Sulbutiamine regularly, and it is partially backed up with data. In individuals stricken with an infection, at least:
“Early research suggests that taking sulbutiamine daily in addition to standard care for an infection over 15 days seems to help reduce weakness and fatigue in people with an infection.”
No word on research showing this effect to be similar in those without infections, but, at the minimum, folks on the internet swear it to be effective.
Researchers might not know all of the functions of Sulbutiamine, but they do have a strong enough grasp of how it works. After ingestion, it enters the bloodstream, eventually passing the blood-brain barrier. In addition to increasing levels of Thiamine in the body, it is also thought to affect Dopamine levels as well. More dopamine in the brain leads to an enhanced mood and inhibition of feelings of anxiety, shyness, and the like. The exact manner in which Sulbutiamine affects memory, cognition, and fatigue levels is not fully understood.
The acute effects of Sulbutiamine commonly manifest within an hour of ingestion and last for several hours. With regular use, the effects of Sulbutiamine on the body seem to trail off in many people, as they develop a tolerance. This tolerance can normally be reset by discontinuing Sulbutiamine use for several weeks, though, the potency is generally not the same as before.
Dosages for Sulbutiamine vary. In many scientific studies, amounts ranging from 200-400 milligrams are common. Among those supplementing with Sulbutiamine for nootropic purposes, 600 milligrams is fairly standard, though some individuals are known to increase their dosages even further. Amounts of 900-1200 milligrams are not unheard of, though should be approached with caution as not everyone will react to Sulbutiamine in the same manner.
The optimal dosing regimen is not yet understood. Researchers are unsure if it may be better to divide doses throughout the day, take them with meals, etc. Furthermore, differences between the encapsulated and powdered forms of Sulbutiamine are not wholly cataloged, aside from the marketing buzz companies will use to sell their particular version.
It is important to be careful with Sulbutiamine, as the side effects can be severe in some cases. There are standard supplement woes, like nausea, headaches, tiredness, and insomnia. Occasionally, this insomnia can become detrimental to your regular routine, in which case you should consider discontinuing use. Sulbutiamine can affect your appetite, causing you to avoid eating as it suppresses the urge. What might be seen as an advantage to some could become dangerous if you are already slender or underweight.
There is also the potential for Sulbutiamine to interfere with treatment for bipolar disorder. The how and why are under investigation, but the reports of individuals using Sulbutiamine and then having their treatment regimen disrupted are prevalent. Best to avoid Sulbutiamine use if you have bipolar or any other psychiatric disorders unless you consult with your doctor first.
Unlike many supplements, Sulbutiamine is more often used as part of a stack than on its own. Most stacks take advantage of the mood enhancing/fatigue-fighting properties. You can try going old school with caffeine (a cup of coffee plus this stuff will have you ready to tackle even the most tedious mental tasks). You might also try any number of other nootropics.
Many recommend stacking Sulbutiamine with Racetams, particularly Aniracetam, as it helps boost cognition and augment the anti-anxiety effects present with Sulbutiamine. You might also try similar compounds like Noopept to get an even more potent boost. Another cognitive boost/energy stack includes a combination of Sulbutiamine with L-Tyrosine, another supposed mental nootropic. All of these possible stacks involve using standard dosages of each supplement, so no need for precise adjustments when attempting them.
As Sulbutiamine is usually best taken advantage of in a stack of other supplements, you might find yourself wanting to substitute it with one compound you can use for your daily mental supplementation needs. Try one of these alternatives:
Similar in effect to Piracetam, Noopept can provide a cognitive boost that is many times stronger. There is also a psychostimulatory effect and some energy enhancement that occurs with some people supplementing with Noopept. Overall, it’s considered a solid nootropic enhancer, in spite of the lack of research on its supposed benefits.
For brain boosting powers in nasal spray form, you might try turning to Semax. It is another man-made option, used clinically to aid stroke victims with mental function. Proponents have discovered an off-label use, mainly a marked increase in mental functioning when supplemented in low doses. Semax isn’t suitable as a long-term option but can be used safely in periods of a few weeks at a time.
This Racetam drug is a “phenyl” derivative of Piracetam, giving it similar qualities along with a psychostimulatory effect and a boost in physical performance. Research on Phenylpiracetam shows it to be effective in reduced doses when compared to Piracetam.
Sulbutiamine has some potent effects in my opinion, particularly where mood and memory enhancement are concerned. I didn’t notice any of the supposed physical benefits, but this stuff still seemed worth it to me. The only thing I’d caution is using it for too long at once. It seems Sulbutiamine might be better as an occasional addition to your daily stack rather than a solo, long-term supplement.