If you want to pile on muscle then what do you do? You take a bodybuilding supplement. This will be something aimed at either improving your energy so you can work out harder and for longer, or your body's ability to repair damaged muscle fibers and build them back thicker and stronger thereby causing hypertrophy (muscle growth) and increasing strength and endurance.
If you want to improve your cognitive function then, what do you take? The answer is a 'nootropic' which is a brain drug that is aimed at improving metal agility, focus, memory intelligence etc. One such nootropic is sulbutiamine, which goes under the brand name Arcalion, and which claims to be able to do just those things and more. It is getting more and more popular and many late night cramming students swear by it, the question is though, does it work and how?
What Is Sulbutiamine
Sulbutiamine is basically a form of thiamine that has been synthetically altered in order to more easily cross the blood brain barrier (substances that can't cross this barrier can't get into the brain and can't affect it). This then means that levels of thiamine in the brain are increased a long with thiamine phosphate esters.
Sulbutiamine as a Nootropic
Studies have demonstrated that the use of sulbutiamine does indeed improve memory function via the potentiation of cholinergic, dopaminergic and glutaminergic transmission between neurons and this has been studied in trials on mice. This can be used then to boost memory for those just looking to improve their mental performance, but it can also be used to combat cognitive decline of other natures – for instance it can be used to prevent the amnesiac effects of dizocilpine, as well as improving memory and cognitive performance in Alzheimer's patients and schizophrenics.
The ability of sulbutiamine to improve neurotransmission also helps to improve reflexes, attention and mental alertness. This then also makes it useful for treating asthenia – a form of chronic fatigue that is based on cognitive function rather than being muscular in origin.
Other benefits of sulbutiamine include improved mood which comes as a result of the improved brain function and some people will use it to alleviate stress and even as a 'party drug'. Another recent study has suggested that sulbutiamine may help to treat cases of erectile dysfunction. The precise mechanism of this though is not yet known. Finally it is also used as an appetite suppressor and fat burner to help reduce body weight.
Side effects of sulbutiamine seem to be negligible, however in some cases individuals report experiencing rashes and eczema-like symptoms. In other cases it has been reported to actually negatively affect mood and cause mood swings. In one reported incident sulbutiamine was said to negatively impact the outcome of bipolar disorder. However this was only because the individual found sulbutiamine to be effective and stopped taking the other medications. Some have suggested sulbutiamine meanwhile to be addictive as it can reduce dopamine production like cocaine resulting in lows in between highs that can only be 'cured' by using the drug again. It may also have negative interactions with some other drugs and particularly antidepressants such as SSRIs.
Some individuals have experienced difficulty sleeping while using sulbutiamine, and meanwhile the appetite suppression can cause some problems in itself. This then is not something you should use regularly and for many the potential energy and mood risks will be too much of a danger. Handle with care.