Table of Contents
To the Center of the Brain
Battling free radicals is all in preparation of citicoline’s arrival in the brain. Recall that it has been traveling in the bloodstream as two separate chemicals, choline and uridine, which are reunited in the brain as citicoline. Now that they’re back together, they can begin to work their magic on your body’s control center.
Strengthening Your Defenses
Citicoline doesn’t stop to celebrate when it reaches the brain; it gets straight to work as a precursor for the synthesis of two important components in brain cells: phosphatidylcholine (substance found in cell membranes) and acetylcholine (a neurotransmitter).12
Acetylcholine and Phosphatidylcholine
Acetylcholine is the major neurotransmitter responsible for activating muscles in both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. It’s also involved in encoding our memories.13
Acetylcholine can be found in all motor neurons, and it serves a number of critical functions. Blink, and you may miss them. Or, blink, and you may experience them; acetylcholine is responsible for the muscle contractions of your eyelids by transmitting the signals between your motor nerves and your muscles.14
In the brain, acetylcholine is a neuromodulator, meaning that it acts on a variety of neurons rather than directly engaging in specific synaptic transmission between neurons. This neuromodulator plays a heavy role in areas of the brain responsible for motivation, attention, and even arousal.14
When acetylcholine function is interrupted, your body can undergo some serious changes. Here’s a cheery example: when a black widow spider bites, her venom causes a dangerous rise in acetylcholine levels. Best case scenario? Severe muscle contractions followed by spasms. Worse case scenario? Spasms ending in sudden paralysis, followed by death.15
Phosphatidylcholine on the other hand is an essential part of stabilizing brain cell membranes and participating in neuronal activity.16
Your body uses choline to synthesize acetylcholine, but that can leave your choline stores shortchanged for other functions.
Guess what else you need choline for? Synthesizing the six-syllable tongue twister, phosphatidylcholine. Supplementing with citicoline gives your body enough choline to assist with both productions, so you can enjoy muscle activation and strong brain cells to help protect against Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, and cerebrovascular disease.17
Rebuilding After Attacks
With phospatidylcholine abound, your brain cells can not only enjoy mild strengthening but also repair from long-term and short-term damage.
Recall that citicoline was originally used as a medication for ischemic stroke patients because it can repair neuronal membranes damaged from the lack of oxygen to the brain.5An acute ischemic stroke quickly cuts off blood flow to the brain, meaning it doesn’t get enough oxygen to function properly. In a study of 272 stroke patients, 54% showed improvements in brain function in as little as two weeks when supplementing with citicoline.18
A meta-analysis of over a thousand ischemic stroke patients and their magnetic resonance imaging scans found that 25% experienced a complete recovery from their brain injury after supplementing with citicoline for twelve weeks.19
While clinical trials have demonstrated citicoline’s recovery mechanisms of action through increased blood flow, in vitro studies have examined citicoline’s attenuation of cell death. When the enzyme phospholipase A2 is activated, it tells your cells to die. Phospholipase A2 is activated for its damaging deeds after brain injuries or trauma, such as an acute ischemic stroke. But citicoline has been able to modulate the activation of phospholipase A2 to reduce its cell-slaying effects.20
Neurological damage can manifest itself in other ways, including declines in neurotransmitter activity.
Dopamine, a neurotransmitter heavily involved in regulating mood, can suffer a reduction if dopaminergic neurons have been damaged. Citicoline can be quite the dopaminergic neuron booster. Citicoline potentiates the production of dopamine to attenuate recent declines in the mood boosting chemical.21
Citicoline’s dopaminergic activity is likely related to its uridine component. Recall that as citicoline travels through your bloodstream, it does so as uridine and choline. In fact, supplementing with citicoline can significantly increase plasma uridine concentrations.8Similar to cytidine, uridine is a nucleotide base also commonly taken as a dietary supplement and cognitive booster. Uridine is generally used to increase the synthesis of cellular membranes and a greater density of synapses in the brain,22 especially in combination with choline and DHA. Uridine augments potassium-evoked dopamine release.23
While citicoline may not directly influence dopamine concentrations, it appears to increase dopamine transporters by increasing the quantity of dopamine released from a stimulated neuron, potentially by increasing the overall health of neuronal membranes.21
Focusing and Remembering
If increased dopamine doesn’t get your attention, citicoline can. Our noble neuroprotectant has been shown to improve attention by reducing focus-based errors, including errors of omission as well as incorrect information.24
But even if you do omit information, citicoline may be able to help. In a study on spatial memory tasks using animal models, citicoline was shown to have a protective effect against the impairment of hippocampal-dependent long-term memory, particularly for those susceptible to memory loss or memory problems: elderly animals.25
Even elderly humans enjoyed improvements in short-term memory recall and verbal memory after oral supplementation of citicoline for four weeks.7
Memory boosts and defense against memory loss in clinical trials situate citicoline as a promising possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
In patients with Alzheimer’s disease, citicoline treatment increased blood flow to the brain and bioelectrical activity patterns.26 Increased blood flow in the brain may assist with recovery from brain injury and offer neuroprotective effects against cerebrovascular disease.
But supplementing with citicoline isn’t reserved for elderly people; the positive effect of citicoline can be enjoyed by anyone. That’s why HVMN carefully selected citicoline as an ingredient in our nootropic stack, Rise.
Rise is a daily memory and mood enhancer, stress reducer, and cognitive catch-all to support long-term cognitive resilience. When you’re ready to improve your reaction times,27 lower your cortisol levels,28 and protect and strengthen your neurons,29 Rise will be there to elevate you.
Battling Against Addiction
For many people, citicoline’s journey in the brain may end with memory boosts and increased attention. For those battling with cocaine addiction, however, citicoline has one final job to do. Before we can send citicoline back out the battlefield, we need to arm ourselves with some basic knowledge about the mechanisms of addiction.
The current basis of pharmocological therapy establishes that the mesocortical and mesolimbic dopaminergic systems play major roles in addiction. One of the four main dopamine pathways in our brains, the mesocortical dopaminergic system connects the prefrontal cortex to the ventral tegmentum. It’s heavily involved in our emotional responses and motivation. It’s also closely associated with the mesolimbic pathway, which connects our ventral tegmental area in the midbrain to the ventral striatum in the forebrain. This dopamine pathway is commonly referred to as the reward pathway because it facilitates reinforcement and reward-based learning.30 Another reward? This pathway may be involved in our subjective feelings of pleasure.
Cocaine floods these pathways with dopamine, allowing the user to tap into those extra sensations of pleasure, motivation, and reward. But the brain adjusts quickly to these higher dopamine levels so that when they dip below the new normal, the user begins to experience withdrawal symptoms: restlessness, exhaustion, muscle aches, difficulty concentrating, increased appetite, and an inability to feel pleasure. Combine difficult symptoms with a reward feedback loop easily controlled by a stimulus (cocaine), and you get cocaine addiction.31
In a double-blind outpatient study, researchers wanted to examine citicoline’s safety in elevating dopamine levels in the central nervous system after they’ve been depleted by cocaine dependency. After two weeks, citicoline treatment was linked with reductions in subjects’ reported mood states associated with cocaine cravings.32 In other words? How about their own: subjects felt more in control over their use of cocaine (or lack thereof), less of an immediate urge to use it, and a reduction in overall desire to use it as compared to the placebo group.32
A longer study in 2007 observed the administration of citicoline to test for its effects on cognitive performance. The individuals had not only a cocaine addiction but also bipolar disorder. Of all the psychiatric disorders, bipolar disorder is linked to the highest rates of substance abuse. Cocaine is often the drug of choice. Both bipolar disorder and cocaine use are associated with symptoms related to mood and cognitive decline. After twelve weeks of supplementation, the citicoline group showed two areas of significant improvement: improvements in declarative memory, and better yet, improvements in cocaine use. By the end of the study, the placebo group was about 6.4 times more likely to test positive for cocaine than the citicoline group.33
While it would not be accurate to say that citicoline is a cure for cocaine addiction, it would be accurate to say that there are studies showing that citicoline may be able to have a helpful intervention. Further research in these mechanisms has been strongly encouraged.
Supplementing with Citicoline
In both cocaine addiction studies, citicoline was tolerated very well, and no one discontinued the use of medication for its effects. As for side effects? None were reported.
While side effects for this med are uncommon, minor effects may include headaches, digestive problems, insomnia, and changes in blood pressure.
Citicoline is highly bioavailable and well absorbed with few side effects.
While there is no Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), clinical reviews of daily oral doses suggest 250mg to 2,000mg a day, with high doses recommended for optimal cognitive benefits.
If you’re looking for a daily dose of citicoline, Rise is a great source that’s packed with other brain-boosting nootropics.
Because citicoline has been reported to influence blood pressure, talk to your doctor before combining the supplement with blood pressure medication. As always, talk to your healthcare provider before taking any new dietary supplements.
Reflecting on Purpose
You should be flattered by how much citicoline is willing to endure for the sake of defending you.
It has to fight rising aggressive free radicals, not to mention build extra levels of defense on your brain cells to insure them for future attacks to promote brain health. Even after all that, citicoline finds the strength to help you improve your long-term memory and cognitive function.
Show your gratitude for citicoline’s journey by using its boost to embark on your own.
Journey into your mind
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