ADVERTISEMENT

Supplement is dud for brain injuries

  • Article by: LINDSEY TANNER
  • Associated Press
  • November 20, 2012 - 5:54 PM

CHICAGO - The hunt for brain injury treatments has suffered a big disappointment in a major study that found zero benefits from a supplement that the U.S. military had hoped would help wounded troops.

The supplement is marketed as a memory booster online and in over-the-counter powders and drinks. It is also widely used by doctors in dozens of countries to treat traumatic brain injuries and strokes.

U.S. scientists had high hopes that in large doses it would help speed recovery in patients with brain injuries from car crashes, falls, sports accidents and other causes. But in the most rigorous test yet, citicoline worked no better than dummy treatments at reducing forgetfulness, attention problems, concentration difficulties and other symptoms.

"We very much were disappointed," said Dr. Ross Zafonte, the lead author and a brain injury expert at Harvard Medical School.

The study involved 1,213 patients ages 18 and older hospitalized at eight U.S. trauma centers. They had mild to severe traumatic brain injuries -- blows to the head resulting in symptoms ranging from dizziness to loss of consciousness and with complications including brain bleeding or other damage.

Half of the patients received citicoline -- also known as CDP choline -- in pills or in liquid within 24 hours of being injured. The dose of 2,000 milligrams, much higher than used in over-the-counter products, was given daily for three months. The rest got a dummy treatment, and all were followed for six months.

Most patients improved on measures of memory, learning and other mental functions, but those on the supplement fared no better than those given the dummy treatment. That suggests their improvement was due to the normal healing process.

© 2014 Star Tribune