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On sulbutiamine, an interesting B-vitamin.

I’ve recently come across a molecule with some interesting properties. Sulbutiamine is a synthetic derivative of thiamine that lends for interesting results. Sulbutiamine is, essentially, thiamine (B1) that is bound together at the thiol group.




This simple alteration in molecular structure, results in an increased liphophilicity that allows this molecule to penetrate through the blood brain barrier (BBB), with much greater ease. So, if I haven’t lost you yet I’m sure you’re wondering why this is such a great thing? To help understand better the importance of thiamine on the mind, we should first look and see what is rendered by a deficiency. A condition known as beriberi, is directly caused by a deficiency in vitamin b1. This condition is usually one that is usually common only to alcoholics and people with poor nutrition. Moreover, beriberi is mostly seen in areas that depend heavily on rice as a form of nutrition, in fact the condition was common enough to warrant the discovery of this molecule from a nation that depends on rice. The effects of beriberi are heavily weighted neurologically, and can result in:

  • Difficulty in walking
  • Tingling or loss of feeling (sensation) in hands and feet (numbness)
  • Loss of muscle function or paralysis of the lower legs
  • Mental confusion/speech difficulties
  • Pain
  • Involuntary eye movements (nystagmus)
  • Vomiting

Although, this does not imply that boosting your brain B1 will yield positive benefit, the removal or negative effect becomes obvious, thiamine is doing something neurologic.

With that said, sulbutiamine has actually been found to have positive benefits, mainly centered around countering central asthenia (mental fatigue). Sulbutiamine has also been shown to potentiate cholinergic effects in the hyppocampus, which is the center of new memory formation. Furthermore, mice studies have displayed significant results in object recognition and operant conditioning, implying an effect on memory. All of which are properties I, personally, like to see out of my nootropics.

As with any substance, you should consult your doctor before taking them but, particularly, sulbutiamine has been shown to have adverse effects in bipolar patients and has been know to cause some skin reactions. In any case, this compound is something that has entered our radar and will likely stay there.


  1. caralee   •  

    OMG! I recently starting taking several “self-prescibed” nootropics hoping to heal my brain and get off some of the many mood stablizers that I have been taking for years. I checked w/both my psychiatrist and primary doc for supplement/drup interaction (you dont want to mess w/ a bi-polar’s balance) but neither one had any knowledge of these, namely sulbutiamine, FocusFactor, Picamilon, (Adrenal desiccated for fatique) Where can I check on these online with the medications I already take so I dont get out of wack. The reason I started nootropics was to improve my memory, mental alertness, energy, and sense of well being. Suggestions are appreciated

  2. elations   •  

    Why this hasn’t been extensively researched for its effect in people suffering from Korsakoff’s syndrome is a mystery to me. Current treatment consists of thiamine injections followed by long term thiamine supplementation. But this treatment isn’t thought to be not very effective because of thiamine’s minimal ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and reach the brain in meaningful concentrations. Only 20% of patients get their memory back, so supplementing with a lipophilic form of thiamine that can enter the brain and reach therapeutic levels easily would seem the logical solution. In spite of the logic and obviousness of this solution, I couldn’t find any research on this nor do physicians treating this condition seem to be consider it or even think along those lines.

    I’m leaving this note to share a personal experience in this respect in the hope that, perhaps, it might help others in a similar situation. Someone known to me developed this condition and was in a horrible state with virtually no short term memory to speak of. This went on for months. I wanted to help, did some web research and came across the idea of lipophilic forms of thiamine that may offer a promising alternative to current treatment. The patient was unable to create enthusiasm among physicians treating him at the time, so I ended up procuring him Sulbutiamine from a web source, unsure of whether it might help, but hoping it might help at least a little, of course. All signs were, it did more than that. His recovery from the moment he started taking the Sulbutiamine was drastic. No other factor in his daily life had changed, so I could not see what else might have been responsible (quite apart from the fact that such improvement isn’t, conventionally, considered possible in the first place, under *any* condition). He had been unable to stop drinking as well, which is another factor considered necessary for any kind of recovery, even a very moderate one, to occur. Maybe partially due to the condition itself, partially due to the continued drinking, his memory never returned fully to previous levels, but it improved more than could have possibly been hoped. And the improvement remained, with certain ups and downs, even after he had run out of Sulbutiamine. His memory has been so much better since the critical months that his former diagnosis of Korsakoff’s syndrome has later been put in doubt and could not be confirmed in subsequent examinations.

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