What is it?

Citicoline is a supplement that is thought to help people with brain injuries recover more quickly. It is available in both oral and injectable forms. It has been used in Japan for stroke patients for over 30 years, but it has also been used in the treatment of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It is available as a generic product and known by many names, but CDPC, CDP Choline, Cytidine Diphosphate Choline, Cytidine Diphosphocholine, and Cytidinediphosphocholine are among the most common names for the molecule. It is known by the brand names Ceraxon, Cognizin, NeurAxon, and Somazina among others.

How Does It Work?

Citicoline works by enhancing production of phosphatidylcholine, a building block of the cell membrane. This chemical is thought to help stabilize and repair the membrane especially in areas where the brain has been damaged. After pioneering studies in Japan, the drug is used in a few European countries to help with concentration and memory problems. In the United States, it is sold only as a dietary supplement.

What Is It Used For?

This drug showed promise in helping people with memory troubles related to aging. Until recently, it was widely used in some countries as a part of acute stroke treatment based on initial promising results in a small study. After the results of a large clinical trial on stroke failed to show significant benefit in stroke, the main indication for citicoline use has shifted to aiding memory in the short and medium term.

Other uses for this medication include using it for Alzheimer’s, but there is insufficient evidence to support its effectiveness. Similarly, the use of citicoline in dementia, Parkinson’s, head trauma, and glaucoma do not have a great deal of evidence supporting its usage.

Research and Evidence

A first study published in Stroke in 1999 found that the supplement was safe for stroke victims, but it failed to show effectiveness in decreasing stroke symptoms in the recovery period.

Citicoline was the subject of an intensive study that was published in Lancet in June 2012. It examined whether using the drug was effective as a treatment for moderate to severe ischemic stroke. The study found no significant differences between the group that took the supplement and those that took a placebo. From this study, it can be inferred that citicoline is not effective for severe to moderate stroke.


WebMD; Citicoline

Lancet; Citicoline in the treatment of acute ischaemic stroke: an international, randomised, multicentre, placebo-controlled study (ICTUS trial); A. Dávalos, et. al.; June 2012

Stroke; A Randomized Efficacy Trial of Citicoline in Patients With Acute Ischemic Stroke; Wayne M. Clark, MD, et. al.; 1999