Supercharging Mitochondria: Unleashing Biohacking Potential with Methylene Blue
Methylene blue - one of the most powerful supplements for mitochondrial health and energy production
Methylene Blue was the first synthesized medicine
Initially used for malaria - WWII soliders took MB as a preventative and treatment
On the list of essential medicines from the WHO
Increases ATP production via better oxygen utilization
Combine with light to super charge mitochondria
Methylene Blue, the OG granddaddy of synthesized medicine1, is the epitome of cool when it comes to chemical compounds. Its vibrant blue hue has a mischievous way of leaving its mark on clothes, tongues, and even transforming urine into a Gatorade green spectacle, as if you just stepped out of Willy Wonka's factory.
Back in the late 1800s, Methylene Blue found its humble beginnings as a textile stain, adorning fabrics with its vivid hues. However, its true claim to fame came in later years when it emerged as a game-changing treatment for malaria. As World War II loomed, soldiers turned to this remarkable compound, not only as a remedy for the menacing disease but also as a preventative measure.
So prevalent was its use among the troops that they coined a saying, "Even at the loo, we see, we pee, navy blue."
From textile dye to a stalwart ally against malaria, even today MB is recognized as one of the world health organizations essential medicines2, for its amazing properties in treating an array of issues.
In hospitals, when patients arrive with methemoglobin—an impaired form of hemoglobin that hampers oxygen transport—methylene blue comes to the rescue by boosting oxygen levels within our red blood cells.
Because MB has such a wide variety of uses, including fish tank cleaner, ignorant media sources have slandered it amidst its growing popularity as a supplement. All despite the wide safety profile of MB and the almost nonexistent reported side effects3 .
Needless to say, I hope I can help shed some light on this amazing compound in order to alleviate the baseless slander over this godsend of a medicine.
If you took high school biology, you would know that ATP is the "currency of the cell." ATP is produced by the mitochondria through a fascinating process called oxidative phosphorylation.
Electrons embark on a quest, hopping from one protein complex to another within a series of transport chains. Eagerly awaiting at the end of this chain is oxygen, which, with loving hands, accepts these electrons, preparing to transform them into water and ATP.
Picture this process as a water wheel. The flowing electrons act as the driving force, spinning a molecular motor within the mitochondria. As the wheel turns, it churns out captured energy in the form of ATP.
Just as the center snaps the ball back to the QB, who then hands the ball off to the running back, who then goes and runs his route, scoring a touchdown.
MB Pumps ATP!
Now, let's connect the dots when it comes to MB. As mentioned, MB is used in hospitals to treat methemoglobin, a condition characterized by a lack of oxygen in the red blood cells. MB plays a crucial role alongside oxygen in the electron transport chain system.
This is possible because MB has the ability to accept or donate electrons, acting like an extra pair of hands to balance the equation of energy production.
Imagine workers passing packages from person to person along a factory line. Occasionally, some packages might be dropped, or bottlenecks might occur, causing disruptions.
However, the last person in line, oxygen, still needs to accept the packages in order to ship them out. If oxygen had an extra worker like MB stepping in when needed, either accepting extra packages or donating them, then this entire system would run smoothly.
The end result is that oxygen is utilized to a much higher capacity, leading to improved ATP production.
Hacking MB with Light
If you red my article on sunlight, I explained how red light from the sun or a red light therapy device can have pronounced effects on your mitochondria and energy production.
Photons from the light source are captured by a specific enzyme within the mitochondria called cytochrome oxidase, leading to an increase in the activity of this enzyme.
Dr. Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, one of the leading experts in MB and red light, has the following to say about NIR light4:
“Acceleration of cytochrome oxidase catalytic activity directly causes an increase in cellular oxygen consumption. Because increased oxygen consumption by nerve cells is coupled to oxidative phosphorylation, ATP production increases as a consequence of the metabolic action of near-infrared light”
Going on to explain the same about MB:
“Methylene blue at low concentrations serves as another source of electrons for the electron transport chain that is part of mitochondrial respiration, leading to increased cytochrome oxidase activity and oxygen consumption”
When you combine MB and NIR light, you essentially supercharge the cytochrome oxidase enzymes, making your mitochondria extra efficient in creating ATP.
Dr. Jack Kruse, a doctor specializing in light medicine, explains that due to MB's unique color, light is reflected inside the mitochondria. As a result, light bounces around within our mitochondria, allowing us to better absorb the photonic energy. This could further explain why the combination of MB and NIR light works synergistically.
MB is a powerful mitochondrial intervention, so if you are looking to boost energy and overall health give it a try.
I will release a follow up to this post with a review of how I have used MB, where you can source (this is key) and why you might wanna try it. Overall, I am a big fan of this blue elixir, after all "even at the loo, we see, we pee, navy blue”.
Howland RH. Methylene Blue: The Long and Winding Road from Stain to Brain: Part 1. J Psychosoc Nurs Ment Health Serv. 2016 Sep 1;54(9):21-4. doi: 10.3928/02793695-20160818-01. PMID: 27576224.
Lu, G., Nagbanshi, M., Goldau, N. et al. Efficacy and safety of methylene blue in the treatment of malaria: a systematic review. BMC Med 16, 59 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-018-1045-3
Gonzalez-Lima F and Auchter A (2015) Protection against neurodegeneration with low-dose methylene blue and near-infrared light. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 9:179. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2015.00179