Overview

Citicoline is a brain chemical that occurs naturally in the body. As a medicine, it is taken by mouth as a supplement or given as an injection into the vein (by IV) or as a shot into the muscle.

In Japan and Europe, Citicoline was originally used as a prescription drug to help improve memory, thinking, and brain function in people who are healing from a stroke. It is primarily used as a dietary supplement in the U.S.

Citicoline is taken by mouth or given as an injection to help memory loss due to aging, improve vision in people with glaucoma, and help with recovery in stroke patients. It is also used for Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, bipolar disorder, lazy eye, and other conditions of the brain. But there is no good scientific research to support these other uses.

How does it work ?

Citicoline seems to increase a brain chemical called phosphatidylcholine. This brain chemical is important for brain function. Citicoline might also increase the amounts of other chemicals that send messages in the brain.

Uses & Effectiveness ?

Possibly Effective for

  • Decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age. Taking citicoline seems to help memory loss in people aged 50 to 85 years.
  • A group of eye disorders that can lead to vision loss (glaucoma). Taking citicoline by mouth, as a shot, or as eye drops might improve vision in some people with glaucoma.
  • Stroke. Stroke patients who take citicoline by mouth or by IV within 24 hours of having the kind of stroke that is caused by a clot (ischemic stroke) are possibly more likely than other ischemic stroke patients to have a complete recovery within 3 months. Citicoline is most likely to work in people who can't receive a medicine called rtPA for their stroke.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Alzheimer disease. Some evidence shows that taking citicoline by mouth might improve learning, memory, and the ability to process information in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease.
  • Lazy eye (amblyopia). Early research shows that giving citicoline as a shot for 15 days, or taking it by mouth for up to 1 year, might improve vision in people with a lazy eye.
  • Bipolar disorder. Early research shows that taking citicoline does not improve depression or manic symptoms in people with bipolar disorder and cocaine addiction.
  • Long-term blood flow problems in the brain (cerebrovascular diseases). There is some evidence that taking citicoline by mouth or injecting citicoline into the vein or muscle might improve memory and behavior in patients with long-term cerebrovascular diseases, such as stroke.
  • Cocaine use disorder. Early research shows that taking citicoline might reduce cocaine use in people with bipolar disorder and cocaine use disorder.
  • A mental state in which a person is confused and unable to think clearly. Early research shows that taking citicoline before and after surgery does not decrease confusion or improve thinking in elderly people.
  • Depression. There is some evidence that taking citicoline by mouth with an antidepressant called citalopram might help treat depression better than citalopram alone.
  • Bleeding within the skull (intracranial hemorrhage). Early research shows that citicoline can increase strength in people who are recovering from a bleed in the brain.
  • Vision loss due to blockage of the optic nerve (ischemic optic neuropathy). Early research shows that taking citicoline by mouth for 60 days might improve vision in people with ischemic optic neuropathy.
  • Injury to the brain, spine, or nerves (neurological trauma). It's unclear whether citicoline can decrease the chance of dying or improve memory, learning, and speaking in people who suffer an injury to the brain. Some early research shows that it might be helpful, while other research shows that it is not.
  • Parkinson disease. Some research shows that giving citicoline as a shot or taking it by mouth along with usual treatment might improve some of the symptoms of Parkinson disease, but not shaking (tremor).
  • Schizophrenia. Some early research shows that adding citicoline to standard drug therapy can improve "negative" symptoms in people with schizophrenia. These symptoms include difficulty expressing emotions, showing interest in others, feeling pleasure, and more. But taking citicoline might not help with "positive" symptoms, such as hallucinations and paranoia. Other early research shows that citicoline does not seem to improve sensory gating in people with schizophrenia. Sensory gating is the ability to block out repetitive noises that are not important, and some people with schizophrenia have trouble doing this.
  • Dementia caused by reduced blood flow to the brain (vascular dementia). Early research shows that citicoline does not help treat symptoms of vascular dementia.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactive disorder (ADHD).
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of citicoline for these uses.

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Citicoline is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for up to 90 days. Most people who take citicoline by mouth don't experience side effects. But some people can have side effects such as trouble sleeping (insomnia), headache, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, blurred vision, chest pains, and others. There isn't enough reliable information to know if taking citicoline by mouth long-term is safe or what the side effects might be.

When given by IV: Citicoline is POSSIBLY SAFE when given by a healthcare provider. Most people who are given citicoline by IV don't experience problematic side effects.

When given as a shot: Citicoline is POSSIBLY SAFE when given by a healthcare provider. Most people who are given citicoline as a shot don't experience problematic side effects.

Special Precautions and Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if citicoline is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Citicoline is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for up to 1 year in children up to 13 years of age.

Interactions ?

We currently have no information for CITICOLINE Interactions.

Dosing

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • For decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age: 1000-2000 mg of citicoline per day.
  • For a group of eye disorders that can lead to vision loss (glaucoma): 500-1600 mg per day.
  • For stroke: 500-2000 mg of citicoline per day starting within 24 hours of stroke.
BY INJECTION:
  • Healthcare providers give citicoline as a shot into the muscle for a group of eye disorders that can lead to vision loss (glaucoma). Healthcare providers also give citicoline as an injection into the vein (by IV) for decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age and to improve recovery after a stroke.
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CONDITIONS OF USE AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2018.