Looking for a mental boost? A new substance that promises a brain boost is showing up in energy drinks and diet supplements.
The purported brain enhancer -- citicoline -- hit the U.S. market as a "medical food" called CerAxon for use in patients with stroke and traumatic brain injury.
Because medical foods aren’t drugs they don't require Food and Drug Administration approval. According to the Wall Street Journal, CerAxon is sold by Ferrer Grupo of Barcelona, and comes in two daily doses of 1,000 milligrams each.
It doesn't require a prescription, but is intended to be used under a doctor's direction, Ferrer says.
“Ferrer Grupo, is introducing CerAxon-Oral Solution to the U.S. market, the first and only oral solution medical food containing citicoline, a nutrient naturally produced by the body and found in the brain,” according to the company’s Website.
Citicoline is also found under the brand name Cognizin, sold by Kyowa Hakko USA, a unit of Japan's Kirin Holdings. Healthy Origins brand sells 250 milligram Cognizin capsules for "memory function and health cognition." The 5-Hour Energy drink from Living Essentials also contains citicoline. The company's website says it helps "recapture the bright, alert feeling you need to power through your day."
In some countries, citicoline is sold as a prescription drug to help regenerate the brain after a stroke. But efforts to gain Food and Drug Administration approval in U.S. were stymied when clinical trials found citicoline was no more effective than a placebo, according to the Wall Street Journal.
A 2010 review of 12 studies of citicoline by the Cochrane Collaboration, an organization that conducts analysis of scientific research, found that it “improves memory, behavior and the overall clinical impression in old people suffering from chronic brain diseases.”