Citicoline is a brain chemical that occurs naturally in the body. It's in dietary supplements in the US, but was originally a prescription drug in Japan.

Citicoline seems to increase a brain chemical called phosphatidylcholine. Citicoline might also increase the amounts of other chemicals that send messages in the brain. It was originally used as a drug to help improve memory and brain function after a stroke.

People use citicoline for age-related decline in memory and thinking, glaucoma, stroke, Alzheimer disease, bipolar disorder, depression, and many other conditions, but there is no good scientific research to support most of these uses.

Don't confuse citicoline with choline or phosphatidylcholine. These are not the same.
When taken by mouth: Citicoline is possibly safe when used for up to 12 weeks. Side effects might include stomach pain, back pain, blurred vision, constipation, and headache.

When applied in the eye: Citicoline 2% eye drops are possibly safe when used for up to 3 years.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if citicoline is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Children: Citicoline is possibly safe when taken by mouth for up to 1 year in children up to 13 years of age.


NatMed Pro rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.
Likely effective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly effective Effectiveness definitions
  • Decline in memory and thinking skills that occurs normally with age. Taking citicoline by mouth or by IV seems to help with memory loss in people over 50 years old. IV products can only be given by a healthcare provider.
  • A group of eye disorders that can lead to vision loss (glaucoma). Taking citicoline by mouth, as a shot, or as eye drops might improve vision in some people with glaucoma. Citicoline shots can only be given by a healthcare provider.
Likely ineffective Effectiveness definitions
Possibly ineffective Effectiveness definitions
  • Stroke. Taking citicoline by mouth or by IV doesn't seem to help with recovery in most people who have had a stroke in the past 24 hours.
There is interest in using citicoline for a number of other purposes, but there isn't enough reliable information to say whether it might be helpful.
Insufficient evidence Effectiveness definitions

Dosing & administration

Citicoline has most often been used by adults in doses of 500-1000 mg by mouth twice daily for up to 12 months. Speak with a healthcare provider to find out what dose might be best for a specific condition.

Interactions with pharmaceuticals

It is not known if Citicoline interacts with any medicines. Before taking Citicoline, talk with your healthcare professional if you take any medications.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

There are no known interactions with herbs and supplements.

Interactions with foods

There are no known interactions with foods. has licensed monographs from TRC Healthcare.
This monograph was last reviewed on 30/04/2023 10:00:00 and last updated on 09/09/2020 00:58:31. Monographs are reviewed and/or updated multiple times per month and at least once per year.
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