What is methylene blue?
Methylene blue properties
Methylene blue remedies
Methylene blue dosage, dilution, cautions
Methylene blue side effects and warnings
What is methylene blue?
Methylene blue (methylthioninium chloride, MB) is a dark green powder that turns deep blue when dissolved in water. It was first synthesised in 1876 and was probably the first fully synthetic drug used in medicine. Even though MB does not occur in nature, it is a useful and versatile remedy with many therapeutic properties.
Methylene blue was used until recently to treat cyanide poisoning and urinary tract infections, but under pressure from the pharmaceutical industry to use more profitable products it was discontinued. The only official use for MB in conventional medicine today is for the treatment of methemoglobinemia.
It is almost certain that MB is a powerful and effective remedy for numerous ailments, and several of them are listed below. There are two main reasons why it is not used more extensively today. The first is that it marks the skin with its blue dye if it is applied topically, and if taken internally even the sclera of the eyes (the whites of the eyes) can turn blue. It usually turns the urine, sweat and stool blue to green in colour. People don't want to use it for cosmetic reasons even if it really is an effective treatment for their ailment!
The second reason MB is not more widely used is the same reason many cheap home remedies are not used - they are too effective, too cheap and can never be patented. No money can be made with them so no money is available for research to show how effective they actually are.
MB also has many uses apart from those in health. Methylene blue (MB) is used as a blue dye or stain in medicine, surgery and pathology. It is also used in industry.
MB has a half-life in the human adult body of 5 to 24 hours. (1)
Methylene blue properties
- Antiviral. Methylene blue has been shown in animal studies to have antiviral properties. It inhibits viral replication and reduces the severity of symptoms, particularly against viruses such as dengue and zika. (20)
- Antibacterial. (29)
- Anti-ageing, life extension, longevity (31, 36)
- Antidote for some poisons, including cyanide, deadly mushrooms and carbon monoxide. (9, 37, 38, 39)
- An enzyme called monoamine oxidase (MAO) is involved in removing the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine from the brain. Methylene Blue is a potent monoamine oxidase inhibitor.
- MB converts ferric iron in haemoglobin to ferrous iron. (1)
- Oxygen enhancement. MB functions similarly to blood haemoglobin, the substance responsible for transporting oxygen to the body's tissues and organs. (6, 11, 31)
Methylene blue remedies
- Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is a severe respiratory condition brought on by pneumonia, sepsis and a few other conditions. (See emphysema.) A study found that methylene blue can improve lung function and reduce inflammation in patients with ARDS. (2, 3, 10)
- Alcohol withdrawal. MB has been found to reduce the severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms by regulating the brain's reward system hormones and reducing oxidative stress. (23)
- Antidepressant. Studies have shown that MB reduces symptoms of depression in patients, even in those who have not responded well to traditional antidepressant medications. (4, 33)
- Anti-Inflammatory. (5, 25)
- Carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Chemotherapy-induced neuropathy is a common side effect of cancer chemotherapy treatment that can cause pain, numbness and tingling in the body's extremities. Studies have shown that MB reduces neuropathic pain and improves nerve function. (28)
- Cyanide poisoning. MB binds to the cyanide and converts it to a less toxic form. (9)
- Diabetes is a common and chronic disease. A study showed that MB improved insulin sensitivity and reduced blood sugar levels. (15)
- Epilepsy. MB has been found to reduce epilepsy frequency, possibly by increasing the level of the neurotransmitter GABA and reducing oxidative stress in the brain. (34)
- Erectile dysfunction (ED) affects many men. A study found that MB can improve ED by increasing blood flow to the penis. (18)
- Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that cause vision loss and eventually blindness. MB reduces intraocular pressure, treating glaucoma and preventing damage to the optic nerve. (30)
- Hair Loss. Animal studies show that MB promotes hair growth. It may do this by increasing blood flow to the hair follicles. (31)
- Heart Disease. Some research showed that MB can improve cardiac function and reduce damage to heart tissue by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. (21)
- Hormones - feel good. MB's MAO inhibition properties increase the levels and activity of several neurotransmitters in the brain, such as norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine, which are important in regulating mood. (33)
- Inflammatory bowel disease is a chronic inflammatory condition in the digestive tract that includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. MB has been shown to improve the symptoms by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. (25)
- Inflammation (chronic).
- Liver Disease. MB can potentially treat a variety of liver diseases such as liver fibrosis and fatty liver disease by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the liver. (22)
- Malaria kills and maims millions of people in warmer less-developed countries. Malaria is caused by a mosquito-borne parasite that infects red blood cells. Methylene blue treats malaria by killing the parasite. (7)
- Methemoglobinemia is a rare blood disorder in which the blood contains too much methemoglobin, a form of haemoglobin that cannot carry oxygen effectively. MB converts the excess methemoglobin back into its normal form, allowing it to transport oxygen properly. (8)
- Mushroom poisoning from deadly or toxic mushrooms. (38, 39)
- Neurological damage. Studies showed that MB is an effective treatment for a variety of neurological damage, including multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and stroke. It seems to protect neurons from damage and reduce inflammation. (5, 12, 19, 24, 34)
- Neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's (11) and Parkinson's (6, 32).
- Osteoarthritis. A study showed that MB can reduce joint inflammation and cartilage damage. (26, 35)
- Osteoporosis and osteopenia. MB seems to assist with bone formation and reduce bone loss in animal studies of osteoporosis. It may do this by promoting the differentiation of bone cells and reducing inflammation, but further studies are needed. (26)
- Parkinson's disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects movement, and it is caused by the death of dopamine-producing neurons in the brain. A study found that MB can maintain these neurons, slowing or halting the progression of Parkinson's disease. (6, 32)
- Radiation damage. Radiation therapy is a common treatment for cancer, but it usually causes some damage to surrounding healthy tissue. MB protects against radiation-induced tissue injury by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. (13)
- Septic shock and anaphylaxis. Sepsis is an extreme response to an infection which is a life-threatening emergency. Sepsis occurs when an infection most often starting in the lungs, urinary tract, skin or gastrointestinal tract triggers a chain over-reaction throughout the body. Methylene blue effectively treats sepsis by reducing inflammation (5) and improving blood flow. One study found that methylene blue improved survival rates in patients with sepsis significantly. (2, 3, 34)
- Skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. MB helps to reduce inflammation and improve skin barrier function. Improved skin. (17, 36)
- Stomach ulcers. A study showed that MB inhibits ulcer formation by preventing the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium often associated with stomach ulcers. (16)
- Stroke. This medical emergency can cause long-term disability and death. MB appears to protect against brain damage and reduce neurological deficits. (12, 19, 24, 34)
- Wound Healing. MB assists promote wound healing by reducing inflammation and promoting the growth of new blood vessels. (29)
- Tinnitus is a whistling, ringing or buzzing sound in both ears. An animal study showed that MB reduces oxidative stress and inflammation in the auditory system. (27)
Methylene blue dosage, dilution, cautions
Do not use MB if pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not use on children, especially babies. While use during pregnancy may harm the baby, not using it in methemoglobinemia is likely more dangerous. (1, 8)
Before starting any new remedy, and especially methylene blue, it is important to involve your doctor or healthcare professional. They can help you determine if methylene blue is appropriate for your specific needs and state of health. They will recommend how to use it, and in what dosage based on the purpose of using the MB, your medical history and current medications.
Methylene Blue can interact with various medications because of its potent MAO inhibition properties. Be cautious when using MB, especially if using other medications, and particularly if using medications for depression or mood, or which affect the brain, because MB can cause serotonin syndrome (SS). SS is a toxic state caused by excess serotonin within the central nervous system. SS results in a variety of mental, autonomic and neuromuscular changes, which can range in severity from mild to life-threatening. Most cases are self-limiting. It is important to ask your medical professional to consider methylene blue's MAO inhibiting properties, because some doctors may not be aware of them. (4)
Buy a pharmaceutical-grade supplement from a reputable source. It will usually come as a powder or a concentrated blue liquid. Carefully follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer or your healthcare professional. If diluting a powder use distilled water and mix thoroughly.
Dosage will vary depending on the individual and the intended purpose. Dosages can range from low microgram amounts for cognitive enhancement or as an antioxidant, to higher milligram amounts for some medical emergencies. Always follow the dosage recommendations provided by your healthcare professional.
MB can be administered orally, intravenously or topically. Injection should only be done by a healthcare professional. Use a dropper or a graduated syringe to measure the correct dosage if taking it orally. Take it on an empty stomach because food may interfere with its absorption. For topical application follow the instructions from the supplier or your healthcare professional.
Methylene blue side effects and warnings
Methylene blue is generally considered safe, but can cause side effects in some individuals or at high doses. If you experience any adverse reactions, stop using it and consult your healthcare professional.
- Allergic reaction.
- Gastrointestinal upset.
- High blood pressure.
- Red blood cell breakdown.
- Serotonin syndrome.
- Shortness of breath.
- Skin irritation.
Your comments about any of your experiences - positive or negative - with your use of methylene blue are welcome at Grow Youthful. I am always curious about your use of and experience with natural remedies, and your feedback is very welcome.
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