Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

5'-Cytidine diphosphate choline, CDPC, CDP Choline, CDP-Choline, Citicholine, Citicolina, Cytidine 5-Diphosphocholine, Cytidine 5'-diphosphocholine, Cytidine (5') diphosphocholine, Cytidine Diphosphate Choline, Cytidine Diphosphocholine, Cytidinediphosphocholine.


Citicoline is a brain chemical that occurs naturally in the body. As a medicine, it is taken by mouth as a supplement or given by IV or as a shot.

Citicoline is used for Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia, head trauma, cerebrovascular disease such as stroke, age-related memory loss, Parkinson's disease, attention deficit-hyperactive disorder (ADHD), and glaucoma.

Citicoline was originally developed in Japan for stroke. It was later introduced as a prescription drug in many European countries. In these countries it is now frequently prescribed for thinking problems related to circulation problems in the brain. In the US, citicoline is marketed as a dietary supplement.

How does it work?

Citicoline seems to increase a brain chemical called phosphatidylcholine. This brain chemical is important for brain function. Citicoline might also decrease brain tissue damage when the brain is injured.


What is a stroke? See Answer

Uses & Effectiveness

Possibly Effective for...

  • Age-related memory problems. Taking citicoline seems to help memory loss in people aged 50 to 85 years.
  • Long-term blood circulation problems in the brain (cerebrovascular diseases). There is some evidence that taking citicoline by mouth or injecting citicoline into the vein or muscle might improve memory and behavior in patients with long-term cerebrovascular diseases, such as stroke.
  • Stroke recovery. Stroke patients who take citicoline by mouth within 24 hours of having the kind of stroke that is caused by a clot (ischemic stroke) are more likely than other ischemic stroke patients to have a complete recovery within 3 months. Stroke patients who receive intravenous (IV) citicoline within 12 hours of having an ischemic stroke and daily thereafter for 7 days also have improved recovery.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. Some evidence suggests that taking citicoline by mouth might improve learning, memory and information processing (cognitive function) in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
  • Lazy eye (amblyopia). Early research suggests that giving citicoline as a shot for 15 days might improve vision in people with a lazy eye.
  • Bipolar disorder. Early research suggests that taking citicoline does not improve depression or manic symptoms in people with bipolar disorder and cocaine addiction.
  • Cocaine addiction. Early research suggests that taking citicoline might reduce cocaine use in people with bipolar disorder and cocaine addiction.
  • Glaucoma. Developing evidence suggests that citicoline might improve vision in some people with glaucoma.
  • Vision loss due to blockage of the optic nerve (ischemic optic neuropathy). Early research suggests that taking a specific citicoline product (Cebrolux-Tubilux) for 60 days might improve vision in people with ischemic optic neuropathy.
  • Memory. Early research suggests that taking citicoline might improve memory, learning, and speaking ability in people with brain injury due to trauma. Other research suggests that citicoline might improve some aspects of memory in elderly people.
  • Muscle strength. Early research suggests that injecting citicoline intravenously (by IV) might improve muscle strength in people recovering from a type of stroke called a cerebral hemorrhage that was not caused by trauma.
  • Parkinson's disease. Some research shows that giving citicoline as a shot along with usual treatment might improve some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, but not shaking (tremor).
  • Recovery after surgery. Early research suggests that taking citicoline 24 hours before surgery and for 4 days after surgery might reduce symptoms of delirium after surgery in elderly people.
  • Vascular dementia. Taking citicoline does not seem to improve symptoms in people with vascular dementia.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactive disorder (ADHD).
  • Head trauma.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of citicoline for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Citicoline is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth short-term (up to 90 days). The safety of long-term use is not known. Most people who take citicoline don't experience problematic side effects. But some people can have side effects such as trouble sleeping (insomnia), headache, diarrhea, low or high blood pressure, nausea, blurred vision, chest pains, and others.


What Happens After a Stroke? Signs, Symptoms, Types See Slideshow

Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking citicoline if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For decline in thinking skills due to age: 1000-2000 mg of citicoline per day.
  • For ongoing disease of the blood vessels that serve the brain (chronic cerebrovascular disease): 600 mg of citicoline per day.
  • For immediate treatment of stroke due to a clot (ischemic stroke): 500-2000 mg of citicoline per day starting within 24 hours of stroke.
  • Healthcare providers give citicoline intravenously (by IV) for age-related decline in thinking skills or for chronic cerebrovascular disease.
  • Healthcare providers give citicoline by shot for chronic cerebrovascular disease.

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