Unlocking the Power of Methylene Blue: From Fabric Dye to Neurocognitive Health
Methylene Blue is a blue dye that was created in 1876. It was originally used to dye fabric, but later it was discovered to be useful in scientific laboratories and medicine. As a stain, it can help scientists to visualize bacteria, parasites and fungus under a microscope. Allied troops used it in World War II in the South Pacific to prevent and to treat malaria infections. Non-medical grade methylene blue is used in fish tanks to prevent algae overgrowth and to keep fish tanks clean.
Currently, in conventional medicine, it is still used to treat hydroxychloroquine-resistant malaria. It also treats methemoglobinemia, which is a condition in which hemoglobulin is not able to deliver oxygen to the body. It is used in some emergency room settings as an antidote against chemical poisonings. In some surgeries, for example in breast cancer, methylene blue is used as a diagnostic tool in sentinel lymph node biopsies. For chronic recurrent urinary tract infections or interstitial cystitis, methylene blue is a component of a medication called “Uribel.”
Methylene blue is not a true antibiotic, however it has anti-septic (anti-bacterial) properties and anti-viral effects. Because it is not a true antibiotic, it doesn’t wreak havoc on the gut microbiome the way that typical antibiotics do. It is being used by many healthcare practitioners to help to reduce the infectious burden in chronic stealth infections, such as Borreliosis (Lyme)¹, Bartonellosis², and chronic/long COVID³. Methylene blue is the precursor molecule to hydroxychloroquine. Hydroxychloroquine has been used successfully long-term to treat autoimmune diseases, such as Lupus. Because methylene blue is the precursor molecule, we are seeing some help in reduction of autoimmune symptoms in some patients.
Methylene blue works by directly increasing mitochondrial respiration through its interactions with the electron transport chain. This is how your body produces ATP, through oxidative phosphorylation. ATP is commonly called the molecule of “energic currency” in biological systems. Because methylene blue helps to restore mitochondrial function, it may help with chronic fatigue, especially if part of the fatigue is secondary to elevated toxic burden affecting the functioning of the mitochondria.
Methylene Blue is used “off label” (meaning that it is not-FDA approved) to help with neuro-cognitive function. Some of the uses include:
- Help with mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar spectrums
- Help with focus, such as symptoms of ADHD
- Help with poor memory, brain fog, issues with mental acuity and beginning stages of Alzheimer’s
In order to safely take Methylene Blue, you must do the following:
- Have a consultation with the prescribing physician, Dr. Christopher Estes. In order to maintain prescriptions, you need to have at least one consultation with the doctor every 12 months. This is to be sure you are on the optimal medications, update your medical history and be sure all of your lab work and routine health screening are up to date. This is a routine part of patient safety and good medical practice.
- Have documentation of a blood test called G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency). This is a rare genetic problem, but if you have this issue and you use methylene blue, you are at risk for hemolytic anemia (rupture of red blood cells). We cannot administer or prescribe Methylene Blue without this test.
- Methylene Blue should NOT be taken with most mental health medications, some neuropathy medications, opioid pain medications, and some migraine medications. Please let us know if you are taking any medications, so that we can avoid any sort of drug interaction. Otherwise, you can develop an issue called serotonin syndrome, which may occur if serotonin levels are too high.
- Avoid breastfeeding
- Avoid methylene blue if you are taking 5HTP or St John’s Wort or GABA
We have Methylene Blue available in the following forms:
- IV Methylene Blue therapies in doses of 10mg or 20mg
- Pills. The dose can range from 2.5mg per day to 300mg twice per day, depending upon the individual’s issues and the prescribing physician’s clinical judgment. At MBCWC, we find that many individuals do well with a dose between 10-50mg per day. We order these pills from an FDA-regulated 503a compounding pharmacy, specific for each individual. Due to the nature of the requirements by state boards and USP guidelines, it takes time for medications to be compounded. It can take between 2-6 weeks to fill a methylene blue prescription.
Things to know before you take Methylene Blue:
- While Methylene Blue is FDA-approved for some uses, such as treatment of malaria, methemoglobinemia, certain chemical poisonings and for use in lymph node biopsies; methylene Blue is not FDA-approved for neurocognitive and mental health. The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of methylene blue for neurocognitive and mental health has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research.
- Methylene Blue can make your urine SMURF-BLUE. This is a normal effect and this is a healthy indication that you are absorbing the medication.
- Often we recommend staying on methylene blue for long-periods of time (minimum of 1 year) in order to see ideal responses for chronic infections, chronic fatigue and optimal neurocognitive health.
- We do not recommend consumption of methylene blue that is NOT medical grade. Methylene blue is currently very popular in the biohacking community. Some individuals purchase cheaper versions of methylene blue online that do not come from a compounding pharmacy. These products are not medical-grade and they are essentially aquarium cleaning products. Please do NOT take aquarium cleaning products internally. Although aquarium cleaner contains methylene blue for treatment of fish fungal infections, it also contains tons of impurities including heavy metals like arsenic, aluminum, cadmium, and lead. Industrial grade Methylene Blue may have up to 11% of impurities, as it is not designed for internal consumption. You could potentially injure yourself, as these are not medical-grade products that are designed for internal consumption. Methylene blue is a medication, which should be prescribed by a knowledgeable prescribing healthcare practitioner after a medical consultation. It is not an over-the-counter medication.
- If you would like to take a deeper dive into reading about Methylene Blue, there is a good layman’s book called “The Ultimate Guide to Methylene Blue” by Mark Sloan. It is available for instant download on ebook websites. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/60051999-the-ultimate-guide-to-methylene-blue
¹ Feng J, Weitner M, Shi W, Zhang S, Sullivan D, Zhang Y. Identification of Additional Anti-Persister Activity against Borrelia burgdorferi from an FDA Drug Library. Antibiotics (Basel). 2015 Sep 16;4(3):397-410. doi: 10.3390/antibiotics4030397. PMID: 27025631; PMCID: PMC4790293.
² Zheng X, Ma X, Li T, Shi W, Zhang Y. Effect of different drugs and drug combinations on killing stationary phase and biofilms recovered cells of Bartonella henselae in vitro. BMC Microbiol. 2020 Apr 10;20(1):87. doi: 10.1186/s12866-020-01777-9. PMID: 32276590; PMCID: PMC7149919.
³ Cagno V, Medaglia C, Cerny A, Cerny T, Zwygart AC, Cerny E, Tapparel C. Methylene Blue has a potent antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 and H1N1 influenza virus in the absence of UV-activation in vitro. Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 12;11(1):14295. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-92481-9. PMID: 34253743; PMCID: PMC8275569.