Hydergine is the trade name for a smart drug mixture of three methanesulfonate salts developed in the 1940s by Albert Hofmann (the same guy who discovered LSD by the way).
It actually comes from an extract of the toxic ergot fungus found in rye. Consumption of this fungus historically led to convulsive and gangrenous ergotism, which killed many thousands of people before the cause was discovered. The condition was nicknamed “holy fire” because of the burning pain and superstitious belief that it was a punishment from god. It’s rather interesting that an extract of this deadly toxin would find a second life as a “smart drug.”
The original patent on hydergine has expired, so there are now many generic versions available, such as Hydroloid-G (based on ergoloid mesylates), Hydergina, Cicanol, Niloric, Gerimal, Redizork, Alkergot, Redergin and dehydrogenated ergot alkaloids…. but hydergine is still the most popular formulation.
Hydergine and the Brain:
Different nootropics can effect the brain in different ways. Some memory enhancers make certain enzymes, neurochemicals, or hormones more or less available to the brain, while others encourage the growth of new nerves or increase the brain’s oxygen supply. Hydergine has been studied extensively over the years and has been shown to boost the oxygen levels in the brain, which may slow the aging of the brain by protecting it from free radicals.
In addition, by reducing lipofuscin, some evidence suggests that hydergine may assist the brain’s synapses in transmitting information between nerve cells, especially serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin influences mood, appetite, sleep, memory and learning. Meanwhile, dopamine helps convey feelings of reward which is a helpful incentive when it comes to learning.
Side note: extroverts tend to have higher levels of dopamine activity which seems to encourage them to more actively seek out rewards. Many highly addictive drugs also act directly on the dopamine system. Hydergine may act as a stimulant-something to bear in mind when choosing your dose.
By stabilizing glucose metabolism, hydergine can increase the availability of ATP facilitating focus and your ability to remember what you have learned. Cerebral microcirculation is also enhanced. Plus, hydergine works as a protective antioxidant against damage caused by free radicals.
Will You Benefit from Hydergine?
In the U.S., hydergine has been FDA approved for people over the age of 60 as a treatment for mental declines. The Physicians Desk Reference defines this as an impairment of mood, self-care, cognitive or interpersonal skills. Cognitive insufficiency of unknown origins such as those suffering from primary progressive dementia, senile onset, and multi-infarct dementia may also benefit. Those with mild to moderate mental declines are more likely to show improvement than those with greater declines.
Hydergine might be beneficial for an aging brain suffering from narrow blood vessels resulting in chronic senile cerebral insufficiency or similar conditions. Insufficient blood flow may manifest itself as short term memory loss, confusion and depression.
In Europe, hydergine is commonly prescribed for stroke, drug overdose, shock, and accidents likely to lead to brain damage.
Even though hydergine was once commonly prescribed to patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, the FDA never approved it for this purpose.
Hydergine is Not For Everyone
Those suffering from delirium, primary neurological disease, mood disturbances and psychosis should not use hydergine.
Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved hydergine (or any other drugs) for enhancing cognitive function, and some of the possible side effects may simply not be worth the risk. Always do your own research and consult your health care provider when possible.
What is the Recommended Hydergine Dosage
A typical dose of hydergine used in clinical studies is 3 milligrams per serving three times per day, for a total of 9 mg of hydergine. One to three months of treatment is often required for benefits to be observed.
While 9 mg/day is not uncommon an uncommon dose in Europe, the highest dose approved for use by the FDA, in the U.S., is just 3 mg per day (1mg three times/day).
Additionally, many doctors prefer to err on the side of caution and recommend starting with only 1-2mg/day to assess your reaction.
Meanwhile, patients receiving 4.5-6mg/day seem to show the most improvement in cases of senility and cerebrovascular disease, which means the FDA approved limits may prove insufficient.
Cognitive function in healthy young volunteers showed enhanced cognitive function with 12 mg per day. However, stroke patients demonstrating mental impairment showed the most beneficial effects with 6 mg/day.
Hydergine has a low bioavailability and so the FAS “Facilitated Absorption System” form of hydergine tablets is preferred by many to slow the release ensuring greater absorption. Otherwise, another option would be to pair your non FAS hydergine tablet with bioperine. Bioperine is a black pepper extract that increases the bioavailability of nutritional supplements.
Hydergine Toxicity and Side Effects
Hydergine is reportedly nontoxic, with the most common side effect being gastrointestinal upset or headaches. This can often be avoided simply by starting with lower doses.
However, a little preliminary web research indicates that prolonged daily use could be associated with peritoneal fibrosis, cardiac valvular fibrosis, ergot alkaloids, orthostatic hypotension, bradycardia, rash or flushing, blurred vision, and nasal congestion. Also watch out for heart palpitations, arrhythmia, nausea, or any other sign of discomfort if you take Hydergine just to be on the safe side, and always bear in mind individual results may vary.
Thanks for reading. If you know someone who would benefit from Hydergine or other brain supplements please share this with them.
Books for Further Reading:
1) Mind Food and Smart Pills by Ross Pelton
2) Disease Prevention & Treatment 4th Edition by Melanie Segala