citicoline nooroots nootropic supplement

Citicoline: Nootropic Spotlight

Expert Writer
About the Author

Charlotte was awarded a Master of Science degree in chemistry from the University of Bristol. She is currently completing a PhD at the University of Leeds.



  • What is Citicoline?
  • Citicoline Benefits
  • Citicoline Mechanism of Action
  • Citicoline Side Effects


Citicoline: A Health Guide to Safe and Effective Supplementation


citicoline nooroots nootropic supplements


What is Citicoline?

Citicoline is the short name for the compound known as cytidine-5’-diphophocholine (sometimes abbreviated as CDP-choline)1.

It was discovered at the University of Chicago in 1955, by Eugene Kennedy and Samuel Weiss, and has since been renowned for its brain boosting and neuroprotective abilities2,3.

Unfortunately, citicoline is only found in very low quantities in food, and therefore requires supplementation for us to take advantage of this cognitive enhancing compound3.


Citicoline Benefits

Citicoline boasts a plethora of benefits for our brain health, of which (to name a few) include:
  • Memory booster: A meta-analysis of double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trials indicated that citicoline was effective at improving memory4,5.
  • Neuro-protector: Citicoline has been found to enhance neuroplasticity in stroke patients, and protect neurons against oxidative stress and damage6,7.
  • Mood enhancer: Citicoline stimulates the production of dopamine and serotonin in the brain, essential neurotransmitters for determining our mood2–4.



Citicoline Mechanism of Action

Phospholipids are important molecules that make up our cell membranes, of which there are many different types. Citicoline plays a role in the synthesis of the phospholipid, phosphatidylcholine, and the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine1,4,8.

Neurons vital to our learning, memory and attention need acetylcholine to function. If acetylcholine is depleted, our neurons will use phospholipids as a source of choline instead – which in turn breaks down the neuron cell membrane2,3,9!

Supplementing with citicoline ensures a healthy level of acetylcholine for efficient neurotransmission, and supports the integrity and repair of neuronal cell membranes3,10.

Citicoline is also involved in the synthesis of glutathione, an important antioxidant that protects brain cells against oxidative stress, damage and death2,7.

If that wasn’t enough, citicoline has even been shown to support mitochondrial function, improving energy efficiency in the brain11.

Citicoline is therefore a cognitive enhancer; supporting neuron membrane integrity, protecting against oxidative damage, and stimulating neurotransmitter synthesis.


Citicoline Side Effects

In phase-III clinical trials, almost no adverse side effects have been observed. However, mild side effects are possible, as with any supplement, and the following side effects could occur3,12:
  • Stomach ache/nausea
  • Headache
  • Constipation/diarrhoea
  • Trouble sleeping



  1. Grieb, P. Neuroprotective Properties of Citicoline: Facts, Doubts and Unresolved Issues. CNS Drugs 2014, 28 (3), 185–193.
  2. (Adibhatla, R. M.; Hatcher, J. F.; Dempsey, R. J. Citicoline: Neuroprotective Mechanisms in Cerebral Ischemia. Journal of Neurochemistry 2002, 80 (1), 12–23.
  3. Cook, S. The Unique Benefits of Citicoline: An Emerging Nootropic and Brain-Health Nutrient; Natural Medicine Journal; Impact Health Media, Inc., 2018.
  4. Fioravanti, M.; Buckley, A. E. Citicoline (Cognizin) in the Treatment of Cognitive Impairment. Clin Interv Aging 2006, 1 (3), 247–251.
  5. Fioravanti, M.; Yanagi, M. Cytidinediphosphocholine (CDP-Choline) for Cognitive and Behavioural Disturbances Associated with Chronic Cerebral Disorders in the Elderly. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005, No. 2, CD000269.
  6. Hurtado, O.; Lizasoain, I.; Moro, M. Á. Neuroprotection and Recovery. Stroke 2011, 42 (1_suppl_1), S33–S35.
  7. Fresta, M.; Puglisi, G.; Di Giacomo, C.; Russo, A. Liposomes as In-Vivo Carriers for Citicoline: Effects on Rat Cerebral Post-Ischaemic Reperfusion. J Pharm Pharmacol 1994, 46 (12), 974–981.
  8. Alvarez, X. A.; Laredo, M.; Corzo, D.; Fernández-Novoa, L.; Mouzo, R.; Perea, J. E.; Daniele, D.; Cacabelos, R. Citicoline Improves Memory Performance in Elderly Subjects. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 1997, 19 (3), 201–210.
  9. Adibhatla, R. M.; Hatcher, J. F. Cytidine 5’-Diphosphocholine (CDP-Choline) in Stroke and Other CNS Disorders. Neurochem Res 2005, 30 (1), 15–23.
  10. McGlade, E.; Locatelli, A.; Hardy, J.; Kamiya, T.; Morita, M.; Morishita, K.; Sugimura, Y.; Yurgelun-Todd, D. Improved Attentional Performance Following Citicoline Administration in Healthy Adult Women. Food and Nutrition Sciences 2012, 3 (6), 769–773.
  11. Silveri, M. M.; Dikan, J.; Ross, A. J.; Jensen, J. E.; Kamiya, T.; Kawada, Y.; Renshaw, P. F.; Yurgelun-Todd, D. A. Citicoline Enhances Frontal Lobe Bioenergetics as Measured by Phosphorus Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy. NMR Biomed 2008, 21 (10), 1066–1075.
  12. CITICOLINE: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews. (accessed 2022-06-06).
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