Centrophenoxine, also known as Meclofenoxate or as the brand name Lucidril, is an interesting nootropic compound. Centrophenoxine was one of the first nootropics ever synthesized in the lab, being created all the way back in 1959. Despite such an early start, centrophenoxine is not a widely used nootropic today. Compared to nootropics like Pramiracetam and Noopept, Centrophenoxine is practically unheard of, even among regular brain supplement users.
So what does the scientific evidence say about Centrophenoxine? What are the main benefits, side effects and issues associated with this nootropic? Is centrophenoxine a good choice for enhancing focus, learning and memory? Is it good for brain health? Is Centrophenoxine one of the best nootropics out there? Let’s look at the latest research to find out the potential benefits – and negatives – of Centrophenoxine.
What is Centrophenoxine?
Centrophenoxine is an ester of dimethylethanolamine and 4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid, or DMAE and pCPA for short. It is a nootropic compound first synthesized in the 1950’s, although it has recently fallen out of favor, and fails to enjoy the popularity of other nootropics such as Noopept or Piracetam.
Centrophenoxine is a cholinergic compound; this means it confers choline to the brain. This is important, as choline is a vital building block of two brain chemicals: acetylcholine and phosphatidylcholine. Acetylcholine is the brain’s main executive neurotransmitter, and phosphatidylcholoine is a necessary building block of brain cell membranes. This has major ramifications for cognitive function, which we will discuss in the next section.
So what are these two components of Centrophenoxine?
- DMAE is itself a widely used nootropic compound and cholinergic. It is thought to have similar effects to the likes of Citicoline and Alpha-GPC, but at far lower doses. However, I can find no strong evidence to support these claims.
- pCPA is a different matter altogether. 4-Chlorophenoxyacetic acid is a synthetic pesticide and herbicide. It is used commercially to regulate and restrict the growth of plants. This chemical is not cleared for use within the EU.
Why is DMAE, an already widely used nootropic, coupled with pCPA in this way?
The answer has to do with membrane permeability. The idea is that pCPA increases the efficiency by which DMAE can cross the blood brain barrier, thereby increasing the rate at which it confers choline to the brain.
How Centrophenoxine works: Mechanism of action
The main active component of Centrophenoxine is, of course, DMAE. Research has shown that taking DMAE in the form of Centrophenoxine is much more efficient than taking DMAE itself, as DMAE struggles to cross theblood brain barrier. The addition of pCPA is what gives Centrophenoxine its real power, but that compound has no nootropic effects itself. Therefore, when we’re talking about how Centrophenoxine works, we’re really talking about how DMAE works (albeit a much more efficient and usable form of DMAE).
There is not a great deal of evidence proving exactly how DMAE works. Few human cliical trials have bee done on this nootropic compound to identify the exact mechanism of action. However, it is highly likely that DMAE works by increasing choline levels in the brain. This leads to an increase in acetylcholine levels and phosophatidylcholine levels.
As the brain’s priary executive neurotransmitter, acetylcholine is responsible for carring out most of what we think of as the cognitive fuctions: learning, speech, decision making, muscle contraction, and so on. Increased acetylcholine levels means more raw brain power and better executive cognitive function.
Phosphatidylcholine is an important part of brain cell membranes. Without it, you coldn’t create new brain cells (such as neurons or the dendrites which connect them). Nor could you properly repair existing brain cell membranes or carry out basic cell signalling. Increasing phosphatidylcholine is a reliabl way to promote cognitive function as you get older.
So why not just take choline? Clinical trial after clinical trial has shown that choline is a relatively inefficient way to raise acetylcholine levels, as it does not readily cross the blood brain barrier. That’s why choline analogues, such as Citicoline, Alpha-GPC or DMAE are seen as better alternatives to taking pure choline. So Centrophenoxine delivers the DMAE directly to the brain, where it is used to make more acetylcholine and phosphatidylcholine.
That is, in essence, how Centrophenoxine works; by delivering DMAE which in turn raises brain acetylcholine levels and phosphatidylcholine levels in the brain. This leads to better overall cognitive performance.
There have been other suggestions as to how DMAE improves memory, focus and overall cognitive function. Some research teams have variously suggested that DMAE works by:
- Increasing glucose uptake in brain cells
- Boosting the synthesis of RNA to boost brain cell repair and proliferation
- Increasing cerebral blood flow
- Protecting neurons from oxidative damage caused by free radicals
- Reducing lipofuscin, a toxin which cumulatively builds in your cells over time
All of these theories have som merit, and they are supported by at leats some clinical trial evidence. However, judging by the weight of the evidence and the observed effcts fo Centrophenoxine, the primary mechanism of action is most likely increasing acetylcholine.
But why then would you take Centrophenoxine and not just go staight to DMAE? What’s the difference between these two nootropics?
Centrophenoxine vs DMAE: What’s the difference?
If you’re looking to boost memory, support brain health and enhance overall cognitive function, then should you use DMAE or Centrophenoxine?
In my personal opinion, the answer to tha question is: NEITHER!
But we’ll discuss that later in the article. For now, we’ll focus on these two substances alone.
What is the difference between Centrophenoxine and DMAE? Which is better? Should you use DMAE or Centrophenoxine to enhance cognition?
The only difference between Centrophenoxine and DMAE is the presence of pCPA; a herbicide (banned in the EU) which apparently makes DMAE much more effective at crossing the blood brain barrier. centrophenoxine is simply a compound of DMAE and pCPA, and pCPA has no observed effects in the body. Once absorbed, the body breaks Centrophenoxine down into its constituent parts and the pCPA is (supposedly) eliminated.
Centrophenoxine Effects & Benefits: The clinical evidence
What are the benefits of Centrophenoxine (a.k.a Meclofenoxate or Lucidril)? Why do people use this nootropic? How does it enhance cognitive function?
According to the supplement manufacturers who makle and see this nootropic, the beneficial effects of Centrophenoxine include:
- Sharper focus
- Faster learning
- Better memory retention and retrieval
- Quicker reacton times and decision making
- Improved long-term brain health
- Reduced rate of ageing
As you can see, the supposed benefits of centrophenoxine extend well beyond enhancing cognitive functions. Manufacturers often claim that DMAE can slow or reverse certain signs of ageing. This has indeed been shown in at least one clinical trial. However, the research team in question only looked at signs of ageing on the skin; no clinical trial has ever shown that DMAE can slow or reverse ageing on the cellular level (the only meaningful way to slow ageing).
How true are these claims?
Can Centrophenoxine really deliver all these benefits?
What does the clinical research data actually have to say?
Let’s look at the ons for which there is at last some scientific evidence from clinical trial.
Centrophenoxine and Memory
One of the main benefits of Centrophenoxine/Lucidril claimed by both supplement manufacturers (and some pharmacists) is improved memory function. According to some, Centrophenoxine can help prevent memory loss and improve both recall and retention in people with mild memory issues, but not those with dementia or Alzheimer’s. The rgument goes that as DMAE boosts acetylcholine levels, it improves working memory and learning.
On the whole though, there is very little good clinical data to support this claim. One clinical trial found that Centrophenoxine was abl to improve the creation and storage of new memories in older people . While the research team noted participants given Centrophenoxine (as meclofenoxate) were able to consolidate new memories, it did not affect information already in storage.
On the other hand, these findings contrast with other trials carried out on Centrophenoxine/Meclofenoxate. One study found that 300mg of Centrophenoxine daily did not affect memory function at all . However, the participants in this study did have pronounced memory issues, which may have made any effect undetectable.
Centrophenoxine and Focus
Centrophenoxine may be effective for improving focus and learning, as well as eliminating “brain fog” in some people. This is because it may increase acetylcholine levels in the brain. As one clinical trial showed, intraveous injections of Centrophenoxine resulted in a spike in acetylcholine levels in the brain after about 45 minutes . Of course, intravenous injection is always going to have more pronounced effects than oral consumption, but themechanism is there.
While this effect of Centrophenoxine may increase focus and conentration skills in some people, it is not suitable as a treatment for ADD/ADHD. No clinical trial has ever investiagtd the suitability of Centrophenoxine as an alternative to Adderall or any other prescription drugs. The effect centrophenoxine has on attention and learning is likely not strong enough to counter the effects of ADD/ADHD.
Centrophenoxine and Brain Health
ALl evidence relating to Centrophenoxine and brain health comes fro animal studies. While you can draw parallels between how the brain functions in humans and rats, these are only parallels; it is not the ame thing as having evidence from human trials!
In one study, male rats were give Centrophenoxine injections every day for 35 days. Rats given Centrophenoxine showed far less motor function impairment than control group . The research team runnin he study suggest that reduced oxidative stress stemming from Centrophenoxine’s antioxidant activity was responsible. The theory is that Centrophenoxine “destroys” free radicals, which cause damage to cells through oxidation. By eliminating thse free radicals, Centrophenoxine protects brain cells (here motor cells) from damage and prevents them from being impaired.
This is, of course, evidence from a study on rodent. We can only draw limited conclusions from it as regards to Centrophenoxine, oxidative stress, free radicals, and humans.
Centrophenoxine and Dopamine
There is some evidence that Centrophenoxine may elevate dopamine levels in the brain. The exact mechanism underlying this correlation is not clear. In the same study, serotonin and noradrenaline levels were also increased in the brain, so it may be that Centrophenoxine broadly increases the synthesis or availability of biogenic amine neurotransmitters. However, this has so far only been observed in rats, so Centrophenoxine may have no effect on dopamine in humans.
Centrophenoxine Dosage: How much should you take?
What is the correct dosage of Centrophenoxine to take to enhance cognitive performance? How much Centrophenoxine should you take on a daily basis? How much centrophenoxine is too much?
These are difficult questions to answer. There has ben little research done on the optimal dosage of Centrophenoxine; that is, to find the dosage which produces the best effects of Centrophenoxine without any serious side effects.
Studies have been done to establish the efficacy of Centrophenoxin of course. Various clinical trials have found that Centrophenoxin reliably raises choline levels, and by extension acetylcholine levels, in huamsn at doses ranging from 600-2000mg/day. Most studies looking at centrophenoxine have used a higher dose, typically split into two separate doses throughout at the day. It is generally acceopted that doses of Centrophenoxine lower than 500mg/day are ineffective.
However, that studies have examined dosages ranging from 600 to 2000mg/day does not mean that this represents the ideal dose of Centrophenoxine. Nor does this definitely represent a safe dose of centrophenoxine. We would contend that no amont of Centrophenoxine is safe as DMAE poses such serious side effect risks.
There is no good data on the elimination half-life of Centrophenoxine. However, since Centrophenoxine and DMAE are almost identical compounds, we can extrapolate from DMAE’s half-life to find a likely Centrophenoxine half-life. Given DMAE has a half-life in excess of 24 hours, we can assume that Centrophenoxine has a half-life of around 24 hours.
Centrophenoxine Side Effects: Is it safe?
When discussing the side effects of Centrophenoxine we are really discussing the side effects of DMAE. While deemed relatively safe when used in a clinical setting, under the observation of a doctor or pharmacist, DMAE is known to pose significant side effect risks.
Many users report experiencing noticeabl side effects from DMAE at doses of 50mg per day and under. Common side effects reporte dby DMAE users include:
- Muscle cramps
- Difficulty focusing
- Loss of motivation
- Low mood
- Difficulty sleeping
Most of these side effects become much more pronounced the longer people use DMAE. This may be becasue DMAE is acting simultaneously as an acetylcholine booster and an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (source). Acetylcholinesterase is the enzyme responsible for breaking down acetylcholine. Inhibiting it causes a rapid build up of acetylchloline. If left to get too large, this build up causes serious problems (the exact side effects listed above).
Then there is the far more worrying matter of birth defects. DMAE has been shown to produce neural tube defects in mouse embryos grown in vitro (source). Preganent women, or women looking to become pregnant in the nar future, should avoid DMAE or any drug containing it like the plague!
In terms of toxicity, centrophenoxine does not appear to pose any major risks. Studies have established that 2g/day does not pose a toxicity risk in elderly people (source). The cited study lasted for 8 weeks, and no serious side effects or toxicity markers were recorded.
With Centrophenoxine, the health benefits are almost certainly outweighed by side effect risks. At least when used without medical supervision for the treatment of specific cognitive diseases. Do not use Centrophenoxine/Lucidril without talking to your doctor or pharmacists first!
This is not medical advice. I am not a practicing doctor of pharmacist. The substances discussed on this website are not meant to treat, cure or prevent any disease of illness. If you have any pe-existing medical conditions then you must talk to your doctor or pharmacist before using any nootropics, especially nootropics like Centrophenoxine/DMAE. If you experience any side effects or have any safety concerns whatsoever while using this nootropic, seek medical advice immediately.
Centrophenoxine vs Natural Nootropics
If your goal is to iprove memory and learning, is centrophenoxine a good option?
Does it boost cognitive function?
Will centrophenoxine really deliver all the brain health benefits the supplement manufacturers say it will?
I highly doubt it. Looking at the research data, it doesn’t seem likely that Centrophenoxine will produce the kin of improvements in focus, memory and learning that many people say it will. Like its only active compound, DMAE, Centrophenoxine lacks conclusive scientific proof. The effects of Centrophenoxine are unreliable, with some studies finding signifciant benefits and others finding none.
More worring i the side effects that are associated with centrophenoxine (or rather DMAE) use. DMAE is known to cause side effects in a signficiant number of uses, and it causes nural tube defects in babies whose mothers consumed DMAE. Centrophenoxine is just DMAE combined with a herbicide banned in the EU. Considering the benefits are far from proven, the cost-benefit analysis here is veyr lopsided for me.
There are lots of natural nootropics capable of drastically improving focus, memory and learning without causing serious side effects. Importantly, a good natural nootropic stack can cause long-term changes in the brain which enhance cognitive function going forward. Some nootropic stacks can specifically target symptoms of ADD/ADHD, while others can reduce anxiety and stress while boosting brain health.
Centrophenoxine might boost acetylcholine levels, but after a time it may cause side effects. It will not promote nerve cell growth, and there’s no evidence it promotes brain cell health.
What is Centrophenoxine used for?
Centrophenoxine, also known as Meclofenoxate and Lucidril, has been used as a dietary supplement for its potential memory-boosting abilities. Centrophenoxine may boost acetylcholine, which is a neurotransmitter important to memory and learning.
How much DMAE should I take?
A range of DMAE doses have been used in scientific studies. For example, in a study examining the athletic performance benefits of DMAE, study participants took 300 to 2000 mg of Deanol per day. The safe and effective dose for you will depend on variables including your age, gender, and medical history.
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- Oliver JE, Restell M. Serial testing in assessing the effect of meclofenoxate on patients with memory defects. Br J Psychiatry. 1967 Feb;113(495):219-22. doi: 10.1192/bjp.113.495.219. PMID: 4382246.
- Georgiev V, Chavdarov D, Petkov V, Kirilov B. Effect of centrophenoxine on acetylcholine release in perfused cerebral ventricles of cats under dynamic electrophysiological control. Acta Physiol Pharmacol Bulg. 1979;5(3):59-66. PMID: 120108.
- Nehru B, Verma R, Khanna P, Sharma SK. Behavioral alterations in rotenone model of Parkinson’s disease: attenuation by co-treatment of centrophenoxine. Brain Res. 2008 Mar 27;1201:122-7. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2008.01.074. Epub 2008 Feb 9. PMID: 18308296.
Paul Tardner is the Head Writer at IJEST.org. Paul is a former academic and research scientist. He now dedicates his time to his own research into nootropics, with a particular focus on cognitive enhancement in old age. You can learn more about Paul from his profile page.