Citicoline is perhaps the single best choline source on the market right now; at least that’s true if your goal is cognitive performance and brain health. Lots of pre-made nootropic stacks contain significant doses of citicoline. This is definitely a good thing – when combined with other nootropics, citicoline can make a tremendous difference to your mental performance.
But citicoline is not just used for enhancing focus and learning.
Some people claim that citicoline is a powerful stimulant, comparable to the likes of Modafinil, Adderall, and other ADHD medications.
We have even seen some people claiming that citicoline can help people overcome stimulant addiction.
So is there any truth to these claims?
Is citicoline a stimulant?
How does citicoline work to enhance cognition?
Can citicoline help replace powerful, addictive stimulants?
Let’s look at the studies and find out together.
How does citicoline work?
Citicoline is a cholinergic. This means it raises choline levels in the brain. That is the main mechanism by which citicoline enhances cognition; by acting as a choline donor.
Choline is an essential nutrient – we cannot make it ourselves, and we need it to live.
Choline is a necessary constituent of several vital compounds.
One such compound is acetylcholine. This is the brain’s primary executive neurotransmitter; it is used for inter-neuronal communication, which is the very basis of executive brain function. Everything from learning and memory formation to focus and muscle contraction is triggered by acetylcholine moving between neurons. More acetylcholine means more raw brain power.
Another compound made from choline is phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine is a major structural component of brain cells, particularly the membrane.
So having plenty of choline available in the brain is an excellent way to optimize brain function all-round.
Citicoline is extremely efficient at elevating brain choline availability. Although citicoline is only 18% choline by weight, it is far better at crossing the blood-brain barrier than normal choline (and other choline salts).
It also provides cytidine, which is a precursor to RNA.
Is citicoline a stimulant?
Most people don’t think of citicoline as a stimulant. Indeed, it is nothing like pretty much all of the substances we know as stimulants; it doesn’t have effects in any way similar to caffeine, or theobromine, or synthetic stimulants like amphetamine. No, citicoline does not produce any kind of buzz or high that we associate with stimulants.
However, if we use the proper definition of stimulant, then citicoline is absolutely a stimulant.
A stimulant is any substance which increases physiological or nervous activity.
By raising acetylcholine levels, citicoline greatly increases nervous activity in the brain. To be exact, citicoline drastically increases inter-neuron communication. The effect is sharper focus, a longer attention span, and more learning capacity.