We’ve written before that the dietary supplement citicoline improved depression in both unipolar and bipolar patients with methamphetamine dependence, reduced cocaine use in bipolar depressed patients with cocaine dependence, and improved cognition in healthy middle-aged women. Findings from a 2013 Italian study by Gareri et al. published in Clinical Interventions in Aging suggests that citicoline improves mild vascular cognitive impairment in older adults, though the study was not randomized, so its results may not be reliable. Citicoline is a natural substance found in the brain and the liver that can also be taken as a nutritional supplement.
The study examined 349 patients over age 64 (mean age 79.9) who had memory impairment and evidence of vascular lesions in the brain (but not Alzheimer’s disease). Participants who received citicoline (500mg twice daily for 9 months) scored better on a memory examination at 3 months and at the completion of the study, while participants who did not receive citicoline performed worse on the exam. Those who received citicoline also saw some statistically non-significant improvement in mood.
The researchers believe that citicoline’s effects may also extend to Alzheimer’s dementia because citicoline contributes to the synthesis of acetylcholine. (Most Alzheimer’s drugs inhibit the breakdown of acetylcholine).
Side effects were minimal, and included occasional excitability or restlessness, digestive intolerance, and headaches.
Citicoline is a natural substance found in the brain and the liver that is also available as a nutritional supplement. At the 51st Annual Meeting of the National Institute of Mental Health’s New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit in 2011, Erin McGlade and other researchers from the University of Utah Brain Institute presented research showing that citicoline enhanced cognition among healthy women, particularly bringing about improvement in attention. Citicoline has few side effects.
The participants in this study were 60 women aged 40 to 60 years who had neither a psychiatric disorder nor any abnormal cognitive decline. The women were divided into groups in which, over the course of a month, they received either 250mg of citicoline, 500mg of citicoline, or a placebo. Both groups who received citicoline performed better on a test of attention at the end of the month than the women who had received placebo.
Editor’s Note: Given that citicoline helps with cognition in healthy women, it may be effective in preventing the cognitive deficits that accompany both the normal aging process and some psychiatric illnesses.
Sherwood Brown and colleagues from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have completed a successful placebo-controlled trial of citicoline for bipolar and unipolar depression with comorbid methamphetamine dependence. Forty-eight participants with methamphetamine dependence and either unipolar or bipolar depression were randomized to either citicoline (2000 mg/day) or placebo for 12 weeks. Those receiving citicoline had significantly greater improvement in scores on the Inventory of Depressive Symptoms compared with those who received placebo, and patients receiving citicoline stayed in the study significantly longer, with completion rates of 41% on citicoline and 15% on placebo.
In 2007, the same team of investigators reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology that citicoline had positive effects in bipolar patients with cocaine dependence, who experienced significant decreases in cocaine use and fewer cocaine-positive urine tests while taking citicoline.