Sulbutiamine (Arcalion) Review

Updated December 7, 2020

What is Sulbutiamine (Arcalion)?

Sulbutiamine, also known as Arcalion and Enerion, is a synthetic drug developed in the 1960s in Japan that is currently used as a nootropic for energy, stimulation, and mood.

Chemically, it was derived from Thiamine, or vitamin B1, as a therapy to reduce vitamin B1 deficiency. It is made up of two Thiamine molecules bound by a sulfur group. Sulbutiamine is fat soluble, and has been found to have higher bioavailability into the brain when compared to Thiamine. In one study on rats it was found to increase plasma Thiamine levels 2.41 times more than Thiamine, making it an effective vitamin B1 source for the brain and body. (1)

Deficiency in vitamin B1 can lead to depression and problems with memory, attention, and mood. The benefits of Sulbutiamine appear to extend beyond those who are deficient in this vitamin and to healthy adults.

Evidence suggests that this compound exhibits neuroprotective effects. It may protect brain cells from ischemia; hippocampal brain cells and synaptic transmission were largely protected from oxygen and glucose deprivation. (2,3)

Much of its nootropic benefits appear to stem from improved cholinergic signalling. In a study on mice it was found that Sulbutiamine increased high affinity choline uptake (HACU) into the hippocampus. (4) HACU is believed to be the rate-limiting step when it comes to acetylcholine (ACh) synthesis. ACh is a neurotransmitter involved in our ability to learn, recall and create memories, and concentrate for extended periods of time.

Benefits of this nootropic extend further than the traditional nootropic benefits of memory, mood, focus, and energy – it has been found to help with erectile dysfunction and is used as a bodybuilding supplement.

Sulbutiamine Effects, Benefits, and Uses

Memory

Multiple studies on mice support a beneficial role of Sulbutiamine for memory.

In one study, mice were given this drug for 10 days – memory retention but not memory acquisition was improved, and HACU was found to increase as well. (4) This leads to the hypothesis that memory was improved through enhanced cholinergic functioning.
Another study on mice found that 9 weeks of injected Sulbutiamine increased object-recognition memory and led to improvements in dizocilpine-induced amnesia. (5)

Fatigue

Numerous human studies have found benefits of supplementation on fatigue, particularly in those suffering from disease-induced fatigue symptoms.

In one study, those suffering from chronic postinfectious fatigue were assigned to either 400 mg/day Sulbutiamine, 600 mg/day, or placebo for 28 days. Both treatment groups experienced statistically significant reductions in fatigue when compared to those in the placebo group. (6)

Another study took patients with infection and asthenia (weakness and/or fatigue) and gave them 400 mg/day Sulbutiamine. (7) 51.7% of these patients self-reported full resolution of their asthenia symptoms following treatment.

In a group of Multiple Sclerosis patients suffering from chronic fatigue, this drug led to a reduction in fatigue without adverse side effects. (8)

An animal study found that large doses (300 mg/kg/day) for 10 days increased wakefulness and altered circadian rhythm without affecting REM sleep in rhesus monkeys. (9) This effect was seen for 2-5 days after supplement cessation.

Social Anxiety, Depression, and Dopamine

In a placebo controlled human trial, eight weeks of 600 mg/day Sulbutiamine in patients suffering from major depressive disorder led to improvements in psycho-behavioral inhibition, although it did not exhibit antidepressant effects. (11) Behavioral inhibition is linked to the development of social anxiety disorder, and it often accompanies major depressive disorder.

Another human study found that 28 days of monotherapy with 400 mg/day Sulbutiamine led to improvements in autonomic and asthenic (fatigues/weakness) symptoms in those with psychovegetative syndrome. (12) Psychovegetative syndrome is a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system that leads to numerous conditions, including depression, anxiety, apathy, headaches, and weight gain. This drug was found to produce high levels of efficacy in 75% of patients.

These studies suggest that Sulbutiamine may be helpful in reducing symptoms of general anxiety and social anxiety in those suffering from a variety of conditions. While the effects of depression varied in these two studies, it may be of use for some people suffering from depression.
Anecdotal accounts support the use of this drug for those suffering from social anxiety. This effect is likely due to alterations in dopamine and glutamate that this nootropic provides. (13)

ADHD and Focus

There have been no studies examining the effect of this drug on focus in those with ADHD or healthy individuals. However, user reviews suggest that it helps with focus for those with and without ADD or ADHD.

Erectile Dysfunction

Findings from one human study on erectile dysfunction suggest benefits with this drug. In this study, seventeen of twenty patients experienced improvements following 30 days of treatment. (10)

Bodybuilding & Pre Workout Supplements

Even though there have not been any studies directly examining the effect of this supplement on bodybuilding or physical challenges, many assume that its ability to fight fatigue brought on by medical conditions carries over to overall energy and physical performance.

You will commonly find Sulbutiamine used as a pre workout supplement in the hopes of providing energy before a workout. While the verdict is still out, some users report experiencing benefits in energy and performance.

Side Effects & Interactions: Is Sulbutiamine Safe?

Sulbutiamine is considered safe and well tolerated when taken at suggested dosages. The most common side effects include:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Nausea

Long-term safety is unknown as there have been no lengthy human clinical trials.

Because this drug increases high affinity choline uptake, you will want to stack it with a quality source of choline to avoid side effects like headache and nausea. Good options that are able to cross through the blood-brain barrier are Alpha GPC and Citicoline (CDP-Choline).
Anecdotal reports suggest that mixing this supplement with alcohol is safe – this would follow logically as interactions between B vitamins and alcohol have not been found.

Dosage

As a fat-soluble compound, you will want to take Sulbutiamine with food. Studies have not confirmed a standard dosage, leaving much of this up to individual experience.

Typically neurohackers take anywhere from 200 to 1000 mg/day; while some users report taking 2,000 mg/day, larger doses appear to be linked to increased side effects. Mose users will take between 200 and 600 mg/day early in the day to avoid insomnia.

The half-life is reported to be 5 hours, leading some users to split their dose into two doses earlier in the day.

Taking this supplement long term may lead to a high tolerance and necessitate higher dosages – it is best to avoid continually increasing your dosage. Because of tolerance, it may be best to intermittently take a day off, cycle it, or even try taking this drug only on days where you would like the enhanced energy boost. Some users report feeling tolerance effects in as little as one week.

Stacks

Sulbutiamine and Phenibut

Using Sulbutiamine and Phenibut together can provide a strong stack to help reduce anxiety, enhance concentration, boost overall mood, and possibly increase workout potential.

Phenibut is a powerful anxiety-fighting nootropic that heightens concentration and may help bodybuilders heal after workouts. Combining Phenibut with the anxiolytic, mood-boosting, and fatigue-fighting Sulbutiamine enhances the anxiolytic and mood benefits.

Phenibut can create a tolerance, so it is best to cycle this nootropic. Using Sulbutiamine during the off periods of this cycle can help to provide continuous anxiety relief while offering a way to reduce tolerance. You can do the same with Sulbutiamine, taking a few days off while only using Phenibut.
Recommended Dosage:

  • 300 mg/day Sulbutiamine
  • 250 mg/day Phenibut
  • 300 mg/day Alpha GPC

Sulbutiamine and Noopept

Noopept is one of the most popular nootropics on the market today. It is extremely potent and powerful, with benefits similar to those of the racetam family of nootropics. You will find improved memory, cognitive function and health, mood, and creativity. It too has anxiolytic properties.

Stacking Noopept with Sulbutiamine has been found to provide anxiety relief along with overall mood enhancement, focus and mental energy, and improved memory, learning, and creativity.
Recommended Dosage:

  • 300 mg/day Sulbutiamine
  • 10 mg/day Noopept
  • 300 mg/day Alpha GPC

Review and Experience from Users

“Sulbutiamine felt like a natural amphetamine. My appetite was down, but my mood was up, I had more energy, and could focus more easily.”Reddit user review
“Sulbutiamine has improved my mood to very positive. I am finding way more pleasure in doing simple things like reading…I took 800 mg just two times in four days on alternate days and changes are so drastic it’s unbelievable to me.” Reddit user review

Where to Buy

You will find three forms of this supplement: capsules, tablets, and powder. Powder is the most cost-effective option, however capsules and tablets offer simplicity. Capsules commonly come in 200 mg doses.

Sulbutiamine is one of the easier-to-find nootropic supplements, although you are not likely to find it at local supplement stores like GNC. Online vendors are a great option, offering quality and affordable supplements; we recommend purchasing your nootropics through Nootropics Depot and Pure Nootropics.

Sulbutiamine is available as a supplement in the US, UK, Australia, and Canada, and as a prescription drug in Japan and Brazil.

References:

  1. Injection of sulbutiamine induces an increase in thiamine triphosphate in rat tissues https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2268373
  2. Evidence for neuroprotective effect of sulbutiamine against oxygen-glucose deprivation in rat hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22040892
  3. Neuroprotection via strychnine-sensitive glycine receptors during post-ischemic recovery of excitatory synaptic transmission in the hippocampus https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20668364
  4. Chronic administration of sulbutiamine improves long term memory formation in mice: possible cholinergic mediation https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4059305
  5. Chronic treatment with sulbutiamine improves memory in an object recognition task and reduces some amnesic effects of dizocilpine in a spatial delayed-non-match-to-sample task https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15951087
  6. Treatment of chronic postinfectious fatigue: randomized double-blind study… https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10573727
  7. Adjuvant role of vitamin B analogue (sulbutiamine) with anti-infective treatment in infection associated with asthenia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14710977
  8. Sulbutiamine shows promising results in reducing fatigue in patients with multiple sclerosis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28755683
  9. Facilitation of a state of wakefulness by semi-chronic treatment with sulbutiamine in Macaca mulatta https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7170385
  10. Clinical efficacy of the drug enerion in the treatment of patients with psychogenic erectile dysfunction https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15776829
  11. Effects of sulbutiamine on psycho-behacioral inhibition in major depressive episodes https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10858919
  12. Use of enerion in psychovegetative syndrome with pronounced asthenia https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14628585
  13. Evidence for a modulatory effect of sulbutiamine on glutamatergic and dopaminergic cortical transmissions in the rat brain https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10996447

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Nicole Gleichman
Nicole's journey towards discovering the body's potential started with her undergraduate degree in Organismal Biology. She's worked with fitness experts, naturopathic doctors. Nicole's experience is in an Organismal Biology degree, 5 years in health and wellness writing and research, and 3 years as a nutrition coach.

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