Sulbutiamine: The Samurai Sword of Nootropics that Calibrates the Reticular Activating System

Another member of the B Vitamin family with Nootropic effects ranging from sharpening memory and vision to alleviating social anxiety disorder.

It was invented in Japan in 1936 to satisfy a need for a more bioavailable agent to treat Beriberi, a nervous system disorder common in Asia at the time. Chemically it fits into the cognition essential family of B Vitamins as a Thaimine derivative, basically it’s two molecules of Vitamin B1 bound together.

Sulbutiamine is another social smart drug, it has been shown to reduce psycho-behavioral inhibition, also described as

  • Shyness
  • Timidity
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Approach anxiety
  • Difficulty making friends in new environments
  • General antisocial behavior

A 2000 French study; Effects of sulbutiamine on psycho-behavioral inhibition in major depressive episodes, analyzed the effects of it combating the symptoms of depression in a placebo controlled, double blind, randomized test environment.
According the human studies Sulbutiamine may “facilitate the rehabilitation of patients in their social, professional and family-life functioning”.

Powdered Pharma Grade Sulbutiamine

One optimistic self experimenter reported on Longecity:
“…Usually verbal fluency and a quick wit are the things I seem to notice the most (also a slightly euphoric feeling). Also pre-workout it definitely gives you a boost/increased focused aka ‘in the zone’…”

The mechanism of action of the vitamin lies in that it upregulates the reticular activating system (RAS). This is the part of the brain from where motivation and arousal originate, when…

  • A salesperson makes an expensive sports car their PC’s wall paper
  • An athlete pulls themselves out of bed early in the morning to train
  • When you see a pretty girl standing alone at a party and you work up the courage to approach her

It’s the RAS working.

It’s memory potentiation agent via cholinergic, dopaminergic, and glutamatergic transmission. Which means that it adds to an environment where in Glutamate can be transmitted throughout receptors in the prefrontal cortex, which is key to recall and the creation of new memories.
A 2007 double blind human study of those suffering from moderate Alzheimer’s disease showed that it had powerful effects in combination with an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor. The study utilized a drug called donepezil but the following nutraceuticals are also acetylcholinesterase inhibitors: To quote the study:
“In conclusion sulbutiamine can be an adjuvant to treatment in early stage and moderate [Alzheimer’s disease] by anticholinesterasic drugs.”

Another study indicated that it has positive implications for memory formation, to quote it’s abstract as it appeared in Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior.

“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.”
A 2005 French study indicated that it helped:
Working memory — This is the RAM of the conscious mind, what you use to solve problems and handle novel situations.
Episodic memory — A record of autobiographical events that have occurred to us. Do you ever take a walk down memory lane; revisiting places, parties and people from your past? This is episodic memory.
“Taken together, these results are in favor of a beneficial effect of sulbutiamine on working and episodic memory.”

It’s a potent therapeutic agent for those suffering from Asthenia; a tragic cerebral chronic fatigue condition in which the sufferer is constantly exhausted, even after a night of sufficient sleep. Several human studies have been conducted to determine the benefits of Sulbutiamine administration to those dealing with chronic fatigue; in a 2003 Indian study of 1772 patients 916 had a complete resolution of asthenic symptoms after being treated for a little more than 2 weeks.

A 2011 Korean study indicated that it has a nueroprotective effect and can counter act ischemic damage that results from deprivation of oxygen or glucose; damage can occur to brain tissues that don’t receive sufficient essential foods. So Sulbutiamine supplementation is a great idea for free divers and high altitude mountain climbers.

Thiamine responsive pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency in an adult with peripheral neuropathy and optic neuropathy.

Sulbutiamine is has also been linked to greater visual acuity, which has positive implications for:

  • Driving at night
  • Practicing martial arts
  • Athletic performance
  • Design or whose work require a high degree of visual accuracy

Furthermore a 2005 Russian study showed it improved performance for those suffering from erectile dysfunction.

There’s a couple of anecdotal reports scattered across the Internet forums of people drinking alcohol while on Sulbutiamine, no disasterous effects where recorded which is what you would expect because there’s not much interaction between B Vitamins and alcohol, however common sense is that it’s not a good idea to binge drink on any Nootropic.

Conditions like Wernicke’s encephalopathy, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and Addison’s disease are correlated to Vitamin B deficiencies and would benefit from Sulbutiamine supplementation. In fact Osama Bin Laden, debatably the most infamous terrorist of the past few decades, suffered from Addison’s disease and took a lot of Sulbutiamine to treat it.

A fair warning, it tastes pretty bad; one Reddit user described it as “30 year old dried paint chips from the walls of a mental institution and ground it up into a powder.”

Sulbutiamine should not be taken every day, in fact it’s easy to build up tolerance to it, it’s recommended that you take it only a few times weekly or cycle it with other Nootropics. It downregulates Kainate receptors which is the likely cause of the tolerance.

Sulbutiamine is fat soluble, so you probably don’t want to mix it with juices or water. Mix it with milk, food or fish oil. Taking it with a lipid supplement is great idea since it improves digestion.


Due to the high tolerance curve dosage should be experimented with: 400 Milligrams on the low end up to a 1000 Milligrams daily

Side Effects:

Are quiet rare, although a few users online report insomnia if you take it late in the evening. Some others report headaches, at high dosages or high frequency of usage.

Originally published at

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