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Methylene blue is a good mitochondrial and cognitive enhancer, with other nice effects. Read on to learn how methylene blue can benefit you and which variety is the best to use.

Introduction to Methylene Blue

Methylene blue, also known as methylthioninium chloride, is a medication and dye.

Methylene blue benefits mitochondria and energy formation, increases cytochrome c oxidase, lowers oxidative stress, lowers amyloid and tau, modulates the glutamate system, and inhibits MAO.

Methylene Blue Snapshot


  • Acts as an antioxidant to mitochondria
  • Improves memory consolidation.
  • Protects the brain.
  • Enhances mood
  • is anti-cancer
  • is anti-microbial


  • Possible negative impact on the gut microbiome at large doses.
  • Should be careful with MAOIs and taking it with lots of sun
  • Can cause higher blood pressure, so people with already high blood pressure should be wary.
  • Doesn’t taste the best.

Benefits of Methylene Blue

1) Methylene Blue is an Anti-Depressant

Methylene Blue (MB) is a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) (R).

MB inhibits MAO-A more than MAO-B, but it inhibits both at large doses (R).

At doses exceeding 5 mg/kg, it may cause serious serotonin toxicity/serotonin syndrome, if combined with any SSRIs or other serotonin reuptake inhibitor (R).

2) Methylene Blue is Anti-Cancer

Methylene blue appears to induce selective cancer cell apoptosis by the NQO1-dependent generation of cellular oxidative stress (R).

3) Methylene Can Help Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Parkinson’s and Huntington’s

Methylene blue has been investigated for the treatment of Alzheimer’s dementia (R, R2).

Methylene blue is proposed to affect neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease via inhibition of tau protein aggregation and amyloids (R, R2).

It also may help Alzheimer’s by increasing acetylcholine (via acetylcholinesterase inhibition) (R).

It also partially repairs impairments in mitochondrial function and cellular metabolism (R).

By acting as an electron carrier and mitochondrial enhancer, it has promise in treating Parkinson’s disease (R).

Methylene blue helps Huntington’s by increasing autophagy and activating AMPK (R).

Methylene blue can alleviate mitochondrial abnormalities in a cellular model of progeria (R).

4) Methylene Blue Increases Blood Pressure

In diseased states, blood pressure often drops too low.

Methylene blue, an inhibitor of nitric oxide synthase and guanylate cyclase has been found to improve the hypotension associated with various clinical states (R).

5) Methylene Blue Improves Cognitive Performance in Healthy People

A randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial of twenty-six subjects (age range, 22–62 years) was conducted on low dose methylene blue (~280mg, which is actually a high dose in my book) (R).

In this randomized study, low-dose methylene blue increased functional MR imaging activity during sustained attention and short-term memory tasks and potentiated memory retrieval (R).

Compared with control subjects, oral administration of low-dose methylene blue increased functional MR imaging response during the encoding, maintenance, and retrieval components of a short-term memory task in multiple clusters in the prefrontal, parietal, and occipital cortex (R).

Administration of methylene blue increased response (more brain activity) in the bilateral insular cortex during a psychomotor vigilance task (Z = 2.9–3.4, P= .01–.008) and functional MR imaging response during a short-term memory task involving the prefrontal, parietal, and occipital cortex (Z = 2.9–4.2, P = .03–.0003). Methylene blue was also associated with a 7% increase in correct responses during memory retrieval (P = .01) (R).

The insular cortex is important for sustained attention (R).

The study concluded: “Low-dose methylene blue can increase functional MR imaging activity during sustained attention and short-term memory tasks and enhance memory retrieval” (R).

Methylene blue has been shown to support memory consolidation and is neuroprotective as well (R).

In rat hippocampal slices, glutamate-mediated synaptic transmission is abolished by relatively high concentrations (5–50 mM) of MB (R).

On the other hand, MB is known to enhance memory retention and other brain functions in which ionotropic glutamate receptors are involved. It is possible that MB benefits cognitive function by modulating AMPA/kainate and NMDA-type ionotropic glutamate receptors (R).

Part of the cognitive enhancing effects are mediated by improvements in mitochondrial function.

6) Methylene Blue Helps Mitochondrial Function

It also has been shown that in low doses methylene blue protects the brain from disease by acting as an antioxidant in the mitochondria. It also acts as an artificial electron donor to complex I-IV of the mitochondria.

MB increases heme synthesis, cytochrome c oxidase (complex IV), and mitochondrial respiration (R), all of which help cognitive function.

This means that it can increase ATP production.  ATP is the currency of life and the energy that powers humans.  If our production of ATP declines, our physical and mental performance declines.   Even healthy individuals can benefit from a boost in ATP production.

High concentrations of MB promote oxidative stress. Therefore, it is expected that low MB doses or concentrations will be, in general, more effective than large ones at facilitating physiological effects within mitochondria.

In fact, at high local concentrations, MB can potentially “steal” electrons away from the electron transport chain complexes, disrupting the redox balance and acting as a pro-oxidant (R).

It is well established that reduced MB can donate electrons to coenzyme Q and possibly to cytochrome c, thus increasing cytochrome oxidase (complex IV) activity and oxygen consumption (R).

At low concentrations, MB can interact with oxygen to form water, which would decrease the superoxide radicals produced during the process of oxidative phosphorylation. MB can also trap leaking electrons produced by mitochondrial inhibitors and preserve the metabolic rate by bypassing blocked points of electron flow, thus improving mitochondrial respiration (RR2R3).

In a rat model of cerebral ischemia, MB was able to speed up the removal of damaged mitochondria from a cell prior to cell death (mitophagy) (R).

MB is capable of reducing the mitochondrial damaging effects of amyloid beta in animal models (R).

Thus, MB is a potential target for mitochondrial dysfunction (R).


MB is able to stimulate glucose metabolism in conditions without oxygen (R), and increase NAD+ by mitochondria (R).

Some of the outcomes of improved mitochondrial function include increased fat burning (βeta-oxidation) (R), glucose utilization, ATP synthesis and extracellular matrix production (R).

In rat models of pancreatitis, Methylene blue reduces mitochondrial dysfunction (R).

7) Methylene Blue is Antimicrobial

Methylene blue was first used in 1891 to treat malaria.

Photodynamic therapy using the light-activated antimicrobial agent, MB kills methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in superficial and deep excisional wounds (R).

MB in combination with light also inactivates viral nucleic acid of hepatitis-C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) and treats cases of resistant plaque psoriasis (R).

MB is an antifungal agent and can inhibit candida by causing mitochondrial dysfunction in this species (R).

8) Methylene Blue Can Extinguish Fear

Preclinical studies have shown that low-dose methylene blue increases memory retention after learning tasks, including fear extinction (R).

Adult participants displaying marked claustrophobic fear were randomly assigned to double-blind administration of 260 mg of methylene blue (N=23) or administration of placebo (N=19) immediately following six 5-minute extinction trials in an enclosed chamber (R).

The study concluded that Methylene blue enhances memory and the retention of fear extinction when administered after a successful exposure session but may have a deleterious effect on extinction when administered after an unsuccessful exposure session (R).

9) Methylene Blue Can Slow Skin Aging

A very recent study showed MB to be an effective antioxidant in connective tissue cells. This was true whether the cells were taken from healthy donors or from patients with a premature aging disease (R).

MB was more effective at building connective tissue and delaying cell death than other common mitochondrial-targeting antioxidants (R).

MB treatment changed the expression of some of the proteins in the skin. For example, the expression of elastin and collagen, essential elements of healthy skin, was increased (R).

Dosage for Different Effects

MB has wildly different effects depending on the dose.  In the milligram doses, it shows some MAO-I properties and can kill certain infections.

In the microgram doses, however, it acts via hormetic mechanisms and likely won’t kill an infection or have MAO-I properties.

My Experience

Methylene blue definitely has an effect and I’ve subjectively noticed that it does so by increasing mitochondrial function, as it’s supposed to.

After lots of experimentation with mitochondrial enhancers, you begin to know what mitochondrial enhancement feels like.  Anyway, I find it’s a great antidepressant and a nice tool for enhancement over the long term.

I take it once a day and I cycle with other mitochondrial enhancers.  I end up taking it about 3-4X a week because I have many other mitochondrial enhancers in my toolkit.

Instructions for Prepare a Solution

Safe Dosage of Methylene Blue

The recommended safe dose appears to be between 1 and 4 mg/kg, depending on the source (R).

Most side effects of MB appear to be dose-dependent and do not occur with doses <2 mg/ kg, a dose range that is widely used in the clinical applications of MB (R).

In in vitro studies, MB demonstrates biological actions at a wide range of concentrations, from 0.1 nM to 10 mM, and toxic effects have only been reported at concentrations higher than 100 mM. (R)

Furthermore, when combined with rivastigmine, a cholinesterase inhibitor, the effect of MB was potentiated (R).

I personally take much lower dosages of methylene blue – about 90 mcg.

Contraindications of Methylene Blue

Methylene blue is contraindicated in patients who have developed hypersensitivity reactions to it and in severe renal insufficiency. It is relatively contraindicated in G6PD deficient patients as it can cause severe hemolysis and also in patients with Heinz body anemia (R).

As mentioned, it should not be taken with an SSRI or serotonin increasing drug, if you’re taking a high dosage (R).

Babies are particularly prone to adverse effects of Methylene blue. It causes hyperbilirubinemia, meth-Hemoglobin formation, hemolytic anemia, respiratory distress, pulmonary edema, phototoxicity and bluish discoloration of tracheal secretions and urine (R).

Methylene Blue also interferes with the pulse oximeter’s light emission resulting in falsely depressed oxygen saturation reading (R).

It can cause higher blood pressure (R).

Caution When Buying

It is important to note that even pharmaceutical (USP) grade Methylene Blue contains impurities, such as arsenic, aluminum, cadmium, mercury, and lead (R).

At low doses, the presence of contaminants is not of great concern, but at higher doses, non-specific effects due to the accumulation of various toxic and bioactive substances are possible (R).

Industrial-grade and chemical-grade MB sold as a dye or stain can consist of more than 8% or 11% of various contaminants (NTP, 2008, Sigma Chemical Co, St. Louis, MO) and should not be administered to humans or animals (R).

For example, commercial chemical suppliers routinely warn that their non-USP MB products are of a chemical grade not suitable for use in living applications (R).

Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick

At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.

That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:

  • Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
  • SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
  • SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
  • SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
  • Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
  • Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
  • Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
  • BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
  • SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics

FDA Compliance

The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (38 votes, average: 4.66 out of 5)


  • Matt

    Do you still answer questions on this topic? I have some questions if you do.

    1. Shea

      We do, Matt. Go ahead…

  • Naomi

    Hi Dean
    Can you please give me more details of this source as I live in the UK?
    Many thanks

  • Dean

    I am taking 5mg/day. I’ve been doing this for a month and haven’t noticed anything negative. My tinnitus will now occasionally totally disappear so that is a a very positive sign.
    WRT a high quality source. It is a bit pricey but their arsenic level is ten times lower than the other sources I’ve seen. It is mailed from the U.K. Each drop is 0.5mg of MB.

  • lloyd napier

    methylene blue goes on the skin…silly rabbit.

  • heinrich

    what do you think about this study?

    It found neurotoxic effects in humans

  • Sydney

    A friend suggested MB to me and said it is really good for weight loss. Is that true?

  • Chad

    Awesome read. My little sister has Huntingtons disease. She’s 29. Her quality life since being dianogsed has drastically declined. I litterall cry everyday seeing her suffer the same way my dad did before he passed. I’ve been read8ng al9t about this and I have some questions even tho u answered most already. Is the dosage u recommended that u take good for Huntingtons? Also is the link u posted to buy it good for Huntingtons? He often should she take It. Wth or wit bout food? Any expections whether negative or positive? Looking forward to your response. Thanks

  • Tracy

    What did you think about the study regarding the use of methylene blue on progeria skin samples where it was found to completely reverse aging defects in the mitochondria over an 8 week period?

  • jameskatt

    It has been about 2 years since your Methylene Blue article. Are you still using Methylene Blue? If not why not?

  • Ben Gardner

    I am leery about consuming a fish disinfectant.

    I was wondering if anyone has been able to locate pharmaceutical grade methylene blue that is USP-compliant? I

    f you search for methylene blue on Amazon, there is only one supplier for pharma-grade methylene blue:

    Does anyone know of some legitimate sources?

    1. Bill Thomas

      I am 99.5% sure that all methylene blue on the market is produced in the same factories, and has similar standards of production quality.

    2. Deborah Johnston

      The commercial OTC Cystex has 162mg in it. Available at many locations in the US, even W-M-t. made for people. made to ingest . yay! no fish meds!

  • Brian

    Is anyone concerned the bottle says not for human consumption. You should not even use on fish you plan on eating! I just worry about lead or other toxic materials.

    1. h4ppinesS

      This is done to avoid liability; it is legalese. Note that you can get just about any drug you want if it is sold as a “research chemical”.and labelled “not for human comsumption”. It is not a reflection of the purity or safety. You may have moral qualms about buying a substance you intend on using as a drug or supplement under false pretenses. And I would suggesting asking for a certificate of analysis to see if it does have contaminants.

      1. alan2102

        methylene blue, 25 grams: [ibisci]
        … see links to certs of analysis. Pure stuff.

        1. alan2102

          I forgot to mention: this exact stuff is available on ebay.

  • Marc

    Why not increase the number of drops of MB added to the 1 oz water to get as close as possible to the minimum desired does (say 20mcg) in 1-2 drops for the sake of convenience?

    I realize that the margin for dosing error increases as required drops per dose decreases, but that risk can largely be ameliorated through sourcing a common dropper that is measured to deliver a known precise volume of liquid per drop. If you don’t have such a dropper, measuring for a minimum of 5 drops per dose should limit that risk enough.

    To illustrate, given a known quantity of liquid per drop, adding 6 drops of MB to 1 oz of water should give us 9 mcg per dose. This would allow for 2-4 drops to get 18-36 mcg of MB. If you wanted to err higher, add 7 drops.

    1. Marc

      I just made a 2 oz solution of water and 5 drops of 2.3% Kordon MB. That should give me a little less than 5 mcg per drop, but I can round up a little because the bottle wasn’t perfectly filled due to the dropper displacement of water. Anyway, that allows me to reduce the dose to 4-8 drops. Let me know if you see a mistake in my reasoning. Thanks!

  • Santiago


    what mitochondrial enhancer/s would you favor for old (>80) people?.

    Apart from the cost, duration of effect or potency is there any meaninful difference in terms of general health between them?.


    1. Joseph M. Cohen


  • chris

    Is everyone taking the amazon source that’s posted above? I bought the stuff off amazon but my wife intercepted my shipment and got a little weird about my plans of taking it. She made me promise not to take it since I shouldn’t be putting stuff in my body that’s meant to keep a fish tank clean. I guess she’s just afraid of damage down the line. Does anyone know of a better source, more pure? Just to add to above article; there seems to be a link between HSV and Alzheimer which MB can help with from what I’ve read.

  • bob

    When he says “Take one DROP from the Kordon 2.3% methylene blue solution and put it in a 1 ounce tincture bottle. Fill the tincture bottle with water and shake.” does he mean one literally just one drop, or a dropper-full??

    1. Joe


      1. bob

        That’s what I thought, I started with worst case scenario i’d be under-dosed not over. It just seems insane that it’s that little of an amount. No joke about that Kordon bottle lasting for a hundred years

  • Andrey

    “There are several contraindications for MB administration. This applies, for instance, to patients taking serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Khavandi et al., 2008; Ramsay et al., 2007) and possibly to persons with certain types of hereditary glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD deficiency). This enzyme provides antioxidant-reducing equivalents in the form of NADPH. G6PD deficiency in its different manifestations affects more than 500 million persons in the world and is thus the most common potentially hazardous hereditary condition.”

    From here:

    1. Selfhacked

      The contraindications are only at higher dosages in the milligrams, not MICROgrams.

      1. Margaret Wilson

        I realize this is a really old post,but just want to try the Meth. Blue so ordered the same as that you showed on your site, my bottle was only 1/4 full so not sure if that is 10 grams. Listening to your video was sure if you were saying to mix 5 or 50 milligrams. Getting old hearing is going too! Can you convert that for me? Like would the amount of MB be equal to 1/8 -1/16 of a teaspoon? I don’t have a scale that precise so would really appreciate your help. Thanks

  • Don Joe

    Well, I gave it a number of tries at doses from 2.5 ug to 2 mg and found the only effect around 15-30 ug, single-dose (but nothing like 60 ug being “too much”, just no effect outside the 15-30 range). It went something like this:

  • Gabriel

    Hello. Very interesting. I am interested to try it. Do you take it once a day every other day for how long? Since when the effect is noticeable? Thanks.

  • Jason Nelson

    How should you space dosing with CoQ10? I generally take CoQ10 each morning, so if I move that to an evening dosage would that work? I assume the spacing would need to be circa 5 hours. Thank you.



  • JB

    Hey from Longecity –
    So one person has mentioned on the forum using Methylene Blue topically to reduce pore size. Any experimentation on that end, let alone luck?
    Cheers and kudos on the excellent blog.

    – JB


      No, sorry 🙂


      Thanks and no

  • Roger

    Agree about sprouts, also adding Coconut oil too.

    On the MB side- thinking 1mg/kg not 5mg or anything above 3mg for 5 days then a breath test, if still positive then go with the typical PPI +antibiotic treatment. Just want to see if I can clear this up without killing all gut bacteria. Didn’t know but 30%+ have H. Pylori, 90% without symptoms.
    No “attack dose” idiocy here. Don’t want to be part of the blue man group.

    Back to MB as enhancement, are you combining with CoQ10? What is your dosing protocol- are you taking MB ED or EOD?

  • Roger

    This dosage is super well within.

    For malaria they went up to 5mg/kg for 3 days, and if you are healthy this is fine.

    I want to see if MB can kill the Helicobacter pylori that I have maybe use it as a photosensitizing agent and add IR 808nm light to my stomach via 48 led Infrared Illuminator. So for this dosages I am going to be in the mg per kg range. MB is really neat stuff. More research needed.


      I wouldn’t do that. Use broccoli sprouts.

  • [email protected]

    Which laser are you using?


    I see. But I have my own way of verifying IF something is working. I take a relatively large dose of a substance without any other substance and only if I’m in a stable state where I can notice a change. If I don’t feel anything or if I’m not sure, I take an even larger dose of that substance the next time until it gets to the point where it’s uncomfortable and there is little doubt that the substance is having an effect. For example, if I take 3 cups of coffee or 300mg of caffeine I feel too stimulated. I am pretty confident that the effect I’m feeling is from the caffeine. If I tried this a few times I’d be even more certain. You may argue that it’s subjective and it can’t be verified, but in my perspective I’m just as certain these substances are having an effect as I am that 300mg of caffeine has an effect. I prefer this way to determine IF something is having an effect, because it also gives insight into how these substances are working. I’m more concerned at this stage in quantifying exactly what is changing in the short and long term. I almost always notice some kind of trade-off with things that work, but can’t quantify it. That’s why I started testing these things with a battery of cognitive tests.


    That won’t answer the question of WHAT it’s doing. So the point is just to see if something/anything is happening? I plan to blind a bunch of interventions and take a battery of cognitive tests and combine it with my subjective experience. I’m in the middle of a different experiment now, so this will have to wait.

    1. gwern

      > So the point is just to see if something/anything is happening?

      Of course. Why would one care about possible mechanisms when one still has little evidence anything is happening? (One or two small human studies don’t begin to overcome the prior against it doing anything useful – rather than one fooling oneself.)

    2. gwern

      > I plan to blind a bunch of interventions and take a battery of cognitive tests and combine it with my subjective experience. I’m in the middle of a different experiment now, so this will have to wait.

      So it’s been a year now; what were the results for the methylene blue?

      1. Joe

        Lol, I haven’t done it. There’s just so many things that took and take precedence.

        I’ve tried it probably 6 times alone and I’m pretty confident it helps me, but I guess that’s not evidence for you.

  • gwern

    Have you considered a self-experiment? For a microdose of a liquid, blinding & randomizing is almost laughably easy: take two small tupperware/jars/containers, fill one up with a dose and the other with plain water, shake the jars in a bag, pick one; the next day, look inside and see what the one you got was. Measure something useful, and after a week or four, analyze. (If nothing else, you could just record your best guess as to whether you got MB or placebo, to get a handle on the subjective effect.)

    1. gwern

      For a more detailed example of what I mean by it being easy to blind & randomize a microdose, see my writeup of a similar experiment using dissolved LSD microdoses: and particularly the methods section

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