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The Anti-Aging Potential of of Methylene Blue

Scientist with Methylene Blue
July 11, 2017 Reviewed by Marta 2 Comments

Are you dyeing to look younger? You may have scanned that quickly, so I’ll point out the “e” in dyeing. I am referring to methylene blue, a commonly used chemical that, amongst other things, is used by biologists as a dye to help them see life under the microscope. And, believe it or not, methylene blue is now being touted as the new black in anti-aging.

What got my attention was a reference by the scientists behind methylene blue that this chemical targets mitochondrion and is even more powerful than MitoQ. As those in the Truth In Aging community know, MitoQ is a very effective anti-aging serum based on a powerful antioxidant that is designed to improve mitochondrial function. Many of us are devotees, so something that claims to be mightier is worth a second look.

So, what is methylene blue and do the anti-aging claims stack up? Methylene blue, also known as methylthioninium chloride, is a medication and dye. It is a common treatment for a blood condition called methemoglobin (when the blood cannot deliver oxygen) and has been used to treat almost everything from bi-polar disorder to blood pressure and infections. It is also a parasite treatment for fish. 

None of this really screams out wrinkle warrior, so I kept digging and found that methylene blue has an interesting and compelling research pedigree — especially when it comes to mitochondria. At this point, it would probably be a good idea to reprise what mitochondria are and the importance in aging.

Mitochondria are organelles within cells that play the key role of energy production. Actually, they are responsible for providing the necessary energy for cell activity. Without mitochondria, most cells couldn’t function; and if cells couldn’t function, we wouldn’t exist. Last year, scientists at Newcastle University in the UK identified that mitochondria decline with age, especially in the skin, so taking care of our mitochondria makes a great deal of sense.

MitoQ does this with a turbo-charged antioxidant, ubiquinone, which has been tweaked to target the mitochondria. Meanwhile, methylene blue has been shown to be an effective agent in delaying senescence (cell death) in normal human cells and this seems to be because it enhances mitochondrial function. Researchers have claimed that methylene blue is a “potential therapeutic target for mitochondria dysfunction.” In another study on Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome (HGPS), a fatal premature aging disease, treatment with methylene blue alleviated the mitochondrial.

For those who want more nerdy details, methylene blue shows opposite effects at low and high doses. At low doses, methylene blue is an electron cycler in the mitochondrial electron transport chain, “with unparalleled antioxidant and cell respiration-enhancing properties that affect the function of the nervous system in a versatile manner.” Note, though, that at high doses it is pro-oxidant and can be toxic.

The anti-aging team published their findings on methylene blue at the end of May this year, based on tests on 2D fibroblasts and 3D skin models. They claimed that methylene blue improved skin viability, promoted wound healing and increased skin hydration and dermis thickness. Also, it altered the expression of a subset of extracellular matrix proteins in the skin, including upregulation of elastin and collagen 2A1.

In conclusion, they said: “We found a robust increase in elastin expression by MB, suggesting that MB treatment enhances skin elasticity and improves skin wound healing. Based on these results, we speculate that by regulating and orchestrating the expression of these ECM genes, MB may reduce the formation of skin wrinkles.”

Methylene blue hasn’t yet made its way into commercially available anti-aging products. From a cosmetic perspective, I am curious as to how the blue dye issue is going to be dealt with? People who have take methylene blue supplements to improve cognition and energy report blue tongues and urine. I imagine it would stain the skin, right?

  • October 22, 2017

    by Sally C.

    I remember Methylene Blue from years ago when I kept an aquarium as a kid, and soon after when I worked as a nurse's aide in a hospital. Along with Malachite Green, it is a true DYE. They are used for fish and formerly for patients for their bacteriostatic effects. ---This is distinctly different from food-coloring, for example. And how can you tell? Food-coloring does not change the color of urine. *This is important because true dyes can gum up the kidneys filtering system and send a person into renal failure. -Believe me, you do NOT want your kidneys to fail.
    -------Please, don't let vanity have you unknowingly INGEST a Dye . . . .
    ......If we really want to try Methylene Blue for staying young, there's got to be a safer way.

  • September 17, 2017

    by joan

    First of all the research states that the optimum dose, .25 does not stain the skin. I'd like someone to post the correct mixture of pure mb to cream so that we can easily make our own. It further states that too much mb creates the opposite effect! As for all the mitoq devotees, this research also found that surprisingly mitoq caused skin to age faster, not slower. This is very alarming, I want more info on that before using mitoq cream again.

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