Methylene Blue: What Is It Used For?

Methylene blue has an interesting history of medical application and is currently used to treat a rare condition called methemoglobinemia. But scientific interest in the drug has increased recently as more has been uncovered about its antioxidant properties.

Key takeaways:
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    Methylene blue is a drug used to treat methemoglobinemia, a rare blood disorder.
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    Research suggests that methylene blue could have positive effects on cognitive function, skin health, NAD+ levels, and mental health.
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    Methylene blue should be avoided if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, have renal impairment or liver disease.
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    Methylene blue has the potential to interact with many drugs, and you should speak to your doctor for medical advice before taking it.

Even though some clinics administer this drug to combat the effects of aging on cognitive function and skin health, it is toxic in high doses and must be administered with caution. This article covers Methylene blue uses, its benefits, and potential side effects.

What is Methylene blue?

Methylene Blue is a medicine used to treat methemoglobinemia. It was developed in the 1990s as a dye, only to be discovered to have medical applications. Primarily, it was used to treat malaria.

Today, many experts agree that it could be beneficial beyond this unique condition, due to its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and mood-enhancing properties. Research is underway to understand the role that Methylene blue could play in improving cognitive function.

Is Methylene blue a nootropic?

Yes, Methylene is regarded as a nootropic in many holistic medical communities. A nootropic is a supplement or drug that enhances cognitive functions, like memory and learning. However, more research is needed to understand the neurological effects of administering it.

What is Methylene blue used for?

Methylene blue is used to treat methemoglobinemia (MetHb), a blood disorder in which the tissues of the body can’t get enough oxygen. Patients suffering from methemoglobinemia can experience symptoms like headaches, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat, and changing skin color.

This is due to high methemoglobin levels in the blood, a form of hemoglobin that can’t carry oxygen. Methylene blue was developed as a form of hemoglobin that can carry oxygen to the tissues.

Methylene blue is also used during surgical procedures, as a stain for blood samples, and was once used as an antimalarial treatment.

Methylene blue benefits

The antioxidant properties of Methylene blue have piqued interest in scientific communities. Studies have shown that methylene blue benefits neurological function as we age because it helps to deliver oxygen and blood flow to the brain. Some research also suggests that methylene blue affects brain damage related to tumors.

More research is needed to understand how methylene blue works to protect brain health, but many experts agree that it could be relevant to manage conditions, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Potential benefits of Methylene blue include the following:

  • Increased NAD+ levels.
  • Enhanced memory.
  • Antidepressant.
  • Enhances mitochondrial function.
  • Wound healing.
  • Delayed skin aging.
  • Antimicrobial.

How to use Methylene blue

There is no universal Methylene blue dose. Currently, it is administered intravenously or as an oral tablet under the supervision of a healthcare provider. Since it can interact with other medications and cause severe allergic reactions, it’s recommended that you speak with your doctor and only receive Methylene blue in a clinical setting with medical attention.

Methylene blue drug interactions

Methylene blue can interact with serotonergic psychiatric medications and cause life-threatening central nervous system toxicity. It can also interact with many other drugs, some of which are the following:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI);
  • Mao Inhibitors;
  • Dapsone;
  • Hydroxylamine.

What you should know before using Methylene blue

Methylene blue can cause toxicity in high doses and can interact with other drugs and health conditions. Here are some precautions to take.


Taking Methylene blue can be toxic if taken during pregnancy. It has been known to cause intestinal atresia, fetal abnormalities, hyperbilirubinemia, and fetal death. It’s recommended that you use birth control if you’re taking Methylene blue.


There is little research to study the effects of taking Methylene blue while breastfeeding. However, it is generally recommended that it should be avoided when breastfeeding due to its potential for toxicity.


Many allergic reactions have been cited following Methylene blue uses. Common allergic reactions include but are not limited to the following:

  • Changing skin color.
  • Racing heartbeat.
  • Hives.
  • Swelling on the skin.

The most serious allergic reaction is anaphylactic shock, which is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. If you experience any of these symptoms after taking Methylene blue, seek medical care right away.

Kidney disease

Methylene blue can be harmful to the liver and lymphoid organs. It is recommended that people with kidney disease and severe renal impairment should avoid taking it. In patients with mild to moderate renal impairment, the drug should be administered cautiously. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have renal impairment before taking Methylene blue.

Methylene blue side effects

High Methylene blue doses can be toxic. In addition, it can have harmful side effects in people with kidney disease, liver disease, G6PD, and pregnant people, and can interact with other drugs. If you experience Methylene blue side effects, seek medical attention right away.

Here are the potential Methylene blue side effects to look out for:

  • Changing skin color;
  • Confusion;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Dizziness.
  • Fever;
  • Headache;
  • Hives and skin swelling;
  • Agitation.
  • Rapid heart rate;
  • Abdominal pain;
  • Dark urine;
  • Blurred vision.

Final thoughts

Methylene blue shows a lot of promise in affecting neurological health as we age. However, more research is needed and there are many risks and potential side effects to taking the drug. If you’re thinking of taking Methylene blue to improve your memory, and concentration, or treat depression, be sure to speak with your doctor about any underlying conditions and allergies.


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