What is Hydergine?
Hydergine (sold by Sandoz Pharmaceuticals) is the trademarked name of a mixture of ergoloid mesylates that was originally discovered in 1950 by Albert Hofmann, who also discovered and developed lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Both LSD and hydergine are derived from ergot, a type of fungus that grows on rye. Hydergine is a mixture of methanesulfonate salts of 4 dihydrogenated ergot alklaloids (dihydroergocristine, dihydroergocornine, alpha-dihydroergocryptine, and beta- dihydroergocryptine). Other common names of ergoloid mesylate compounds for sale include Alkergot, Cicanol, Gerimal, Hydergina, Niloric, Redergin, and Redizork. The compounds contain different amounts of the 4 dihydrogenated ergot alkaloids listed above.
It has been used in clinical medicine to treat peripheral vascular disease, hypertension, angina pectoris, tinnitus, dementia, and age-related cognitive decline. It is most commonly used to treat dementia and cerebrovascular insufficiency (low blood flow to the brain).
How does it work?
Hydergine acts in the central nervous system to decrease vascular tone of blood vessels that supply the brain. This has the net effect of relaxing the cerebrovasculature and increasing the amount of oxygen delivered to neurons. It is thought that increased oxygen levels in the brain enhance neuronal metabolism and function.
Some websites selling hydergine make bold claims about its range of cellular effects. However, beyond the effect on blood flow, there is little experimental evidence to support their claims. One study did find that treating aged rats with hydergine increased the size and number of mitochondria, which are organelles that produce molecules of ATP that power nearly every cellular process.
A review of hydergine trials in possible dementia patients reported that hydergine was more effective than placebo, but the effect in patients was very modest at best, even at 40 mg/day. It seemed to improve some symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, depression, and apathy that are attributable or suspected to be caused by cerebrovascular insufficiency and cerebral arteriosclerosis. It is likely to be most effective in early stages of dementia, before a large amount of neuronal death has occurred.
One study reported that hydergine improved cognitive function and reduced behavioral problems in children with learning disabilities. Vendors that sell ergoloid mesylates advertise that they improve intelligence, memory, and recall. People who have used the compound report increased awareness and perception, but not necessarily faster processing speeds or enhanced memory.
Hydergine Side Effects
Hydergine and other ergoloid mesylates are quite safe in their therapeutic range, and harmful doses are an order of magnitude larger than those necessary to achieve favorable outcomes of increased blood flow to the brain.
Side effects are usually transient and mild. They include nausea and gastrointestinal disturbances (typically dose dependent), orthostatic hypotension (dizziness upon standing), slightly elevated heart rate, and flushing.
The recommended dosage is 3 mg/day taken in 3 (1 mg) divided doses. Up to 12 mg/day have been used without serious adverse effects in Europe and Japan. A meta-review, which is a type of study that combines the results of many clinical trials, found that people with dementia had better effects on daily doses of 4.5 mg or more, but that amount is greater than what is currently recommended by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Approximately 25% of the administered oral dose actually reaches the plasma (blood circulation). Peak plasma levels are reached 0.6-3.1 hours after administration. Taking it with food does not affect the amount absorbed, but it does slow the absorption rate. The half-life of hydergine is 2.6-5.1 hours. It has been reported that 3-4 weeks of regular use is necessary to observe any effects.
The trademarked version of hydergine is available by prescription as 1 mg liquid-filled capsules, 1 mg tablets, 1 mg/ml solutions, and sublingual 0.5 and 1 mg dissolving tablets. Non-prescription versions are bought through foreign, mail-order sources in 1.5, 4.5, and 5 mg tablets.
People who have psychosis, previously reacted to an ergoloid, or have low-blood pressure should not take this compound.
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Bertoni-Freddari, C., P. Fattoretti, T. Casoli, C. Spagna, and W. Meier-Ruge. “Morphological Alterations of Synaptic Mitochondria during Aging: The Effect of Hydergine® Treatment.” Ann NY Acad Sci 717 (1994): 137-49. Print.
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Thompson, T. L., C. M. Filley, W. D. Mitchell, K. M. Kulig, M. LoVerde, and R. L. Byyny. “Lack of Efficacy of Hydergine with Alzheimer’s Disease.” N Engl J Med 323.7 (1990): 445-48. Print.
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