| Food & Diet
What Is Methylene Blue And What Are Its Benefits?
By Tyler Woodward
From fish tanks to war zones methylene blue has been utilized for just about every purpose you can think of. Keep reading to learn about this potent substance and what it can do for you...
- What Is Methylene Blue?
- History Of Methylene Blue
- How Does Methylene Blue Work?
- Potential Benefits Of Methylene Blue
- How To Take Methylene Blue?
What Is Methylene Blue?:
Methylene blue is also known as methylthioninium chloride and has an extremely wide range of uses including:
- Fabric Dye
- Microscope Slide Staining Agent
- MAO (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor)
- Nitric Oxide Inhibitor
- Acts As An Electron Acceptor
- Cyanide Antidote
- Anti-Malarial Drug
- Used To Treat Methemoglobinemia
History Of This Potent Substance:
Methylene Blue was first synthesized in 1876 by Heinrich Caro. It is commonly referred to as the first synthetic drug used in medicine. Caro discovered methylene blue as a means of dyeing clothing blue to keep up with rapidly increasing demands for dye in the textile industry. Four years later scientist Paul Erlich discovered methylene’s blue use as a neutral dye agent for staining microscope slides. This allowed for certain parts of the cell to be differentiated under a microscope that had never before been able to be seen, specifically it turned neurons blue.
In the next few years scientists Paul Erlich and Paul Guttman discovered Methylene Blue’s ability to selectively target plasmodium, the parasite which causes malaria. Due to methylene blue’s cheap cost of production and potent ability to fight malaria made it extremely cost-effective and popular means of of fighting malaria for the late 19th and early 20th century. It wasn’t until the colorless derivative of methylene blue, quinine was developed in the early 20th century that caused methylene blue to fade out, but it was still used commonly throughout World War II.
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How Does Methylene Blue Work?:
Methylene Blue has a variety of functions which allows it to be an extremely versatile medicine.
It’s a Redox Agent
Methylene blue has the ability to donate an electron, classifying it as an electron donor and in many ways as an antioxidant. This is what allows methylene blue to treat methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia is a protein similar to hemoglobin that binds to ferric iron (Fe3+) instead of ferrous iron. Because oxygen has a charge of -2, it can only bind to ferric or heme iron. If an excess of the methemoglobinemia protein builds up in the blood it can cause cells in the tissue to suffocate due to a lack of oxygen. Methylene blue can donate an electron to the methemoglobinemia protein converting methemoglobinemia back into hemoglobin.
Potently Inhibits Nitric Oxide
Methylene blue inhibits nitric oxide primarily in three ways:
- Displaces nitric oxide in the mitochondria - Methylene blue can bind to the cytochrome c oxidase protein in the mitochondria. This allows it to displace nitric oxide allowing carbon dioxide to bind in its place
- Nitric oxide radical scavenger - Nitric oxide rapidly degrades into a free radical when produced which can cause oxidative stress. Methylene blue acts as a redox agent and absorbs the free radical, preventing further oxidative stress.
- Inhibits nitric oxide synthase - It’s believed that methylene blue inhibits the protein which activates the nitric oxide synthase pathway thereby inhibiting the production of methylene blue.
It’s a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI)
Methylene blue inhibits the monoamine oxidase inhibitor which is responsible for breaking down the monoamine neurotransmitters noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine. By inhibiting monoamine oxidase it increases the amount of these neurotransmitters present in the brain which may contribute to methylene blue antidepressant effects †.
Exhibits An Antibacterial Effect
If you’ve ever had a fish tank you may be familiar with methylene blue’s ability to fend off bad bacteria in the tank in order to keep a healthy ecosystem. Methylene blue likely exhibits a similar effect on humans, but when consumed orally it never reaches the colon where the “bad” bacteria reside.
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Potential Benefits Of Methylene Blue:
- Increase glucose metabolism & cellular respiration †
- May reduce cognitive decline & improve cognitive function†
- May be able to function as a potent pain-reducer †
- Can be used as a safe and effective treatment for malaria and methemoglobinemia
- Acts as potent antioxidant helping to mitigate oxidative stress
How To Take Methylene Blue?:
Methylene blue can be taken orally in liquid or capsule form or topically placed on your skin. Most liquid forms of methylene blue come in a dose of 400mcg per drop. I would recommend starting at a dose of 5 drops per day or 2mg. There are benefits to taking higher doses of methylene blue up to 50mg with very minimal side effects, but taking doses up to 2mg per kg is generally regarded as safe and up to as high as 7mg per kg have been administered by medical professionals, but very high doses can cause toxicity.
If you are looking to take a higher dose of methylene blue to amplify the effects I recommend and personally take 10mg daily. Split up between the morning and night and I place the drop into juice or milk. If you are experimenting with higher doses of methylene your urine may turn a shade of blue. This is a normal response as your body processes large amounts of the substance.
If you are taking any prescription medication make sure to check with a medical professional before trying methylene blue. Particularly if you are taking SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) you should not take methylene blue as it can result in serotonin syndrome from an excess of serotonin in the brain.
If you are looking to use methylene blue for yourself make sure to purchase a pharmaceutical grade level methylene blue. This will mitigate any impurities in the product.
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