It’s Monday morning and you sit down at work. Whilst everyone sips on their coffee to get them focused for the day, a colleague reaches over. She passes you a blue tablet. It’s called Methylene Blue. She tells you it’s a textile dye and it’s sure to improve your focus. At this point, you will likely either move desks or call for help. You will certainly go and lock the cleaning cupboard. After all, if she’s taken that, what’s stopping her from having a swig of kitchen cleaner? Yet, she is not alone. So, what is Methylene Blue used for? Consumers are using it to improve their brain function. In this consumer insight report, we analyse online data to discover the mysteries behind this trend. As a healthcare digital agency, we decipher significant volumes of online data. We uncover why people are taking it and the issues involved.
What is methylene blue used for?
Methylene Blue was initially used as a textile dye, and later became a breakthrough malaria treatment. In recent years, people have also promoted it as a nootropic. In short, people are using Methylene Blue for cognitive enhancement. They suggest it can act as a cellular supercharger, enhancing the flow of electrons in our mitochondria. Consequently, proponents are turning to emerging studies. These form the basis for taking Methylene Blue. They claim it can boost memory and attention. Moreover, it improves mood and protects the brain from diseases like Alzheimer’s.
The supplement soared 300% in interest in the US
Interest in the supplement Methylene Blue has skyrocketed by 233% over the last five years in the UK. In comparison, the US has seen a 300% increase. The higher volumes of searches in the US make the growth even more impressive.
The data outlines a fascinating trend. Both the US and the UK have seen significant spikes. This would suggest increased consumer awareness of the potential cognitive benefits of Methylene Blue. A key reason for the higher US growth rate is the maturity of the market. Methylene Blue is more readily available.
Worldwide, the growth has been slightly slower – 122% over five years. Yet, as seen in the graph below we can see hotspots of where the supplement is gaining interest. The dark blue denotes where a nation has a higher proportion of searches for the supplement in comparison to all searches in the region. For example, in Africa, Ghana and Congo have high Methylene Blue related searches when compared to all searches made in that region.
Methylene blue used for health optimisation
It is important to note Methylene Blue has several use cases. This includes usage as a disinfectant for fish aquariums. Therefore, you could argue that the spike in interest is attributable to factors other than cognitive health. Yet, a deep dive into the data shows many high-volume, associated search terms are also linked to health outcomes. For example, people are searching for benefits, dosage and even injections. Whilst it is true there are some searches related to fish, cognitive health would appear to be the leading reason.
To add some perspective, in the UK there are approx. 9,900 searches per month for Methylene Blue. That is more searches than Cacao powder, which is a common ingredient in healthy recipes. In the US, there are 60,500 searches per month.
Online communities driving interest as methylene blue is used for showcasing health optimisation
The spike in interest in Methylene Blue stems from several factors. Yet, mainstream media and health websites do not appear to be the main catalyst. Inspecting search results, we can see very few pages commercially optimised for Methylene Blue when compared to other health interventions. Many of the pages are science-driven reports with technical jargon. Yet as any good SEO consultant will tell you it is important to write content with the user in mind. Moreover, you need to answer your user’s most pressing questions. However, this does not appear to be the case for Methylene Blue. So, where is the generation of this interest occurring?
The answer lies in social media. Biohackers have adopted the supplement as their cognitive enhancer of choice. Biohacking has over 600 million views on TikTok. Moreover, the US is home to the largest biohacking community. This is perhaps a key reason why there are significantly higher searches for Methylene Blue there.
Importantly, as we tell our clients, social media works best when you understand and target a niche. Furthermore, many platforms like TikTok and Instagram require creators to provide visual appeal. This is what makes Methylene Blue so popular for many creators. It is commonplace to see biohackers, showcasing their blue tongue after taking Methylene Blue. This is perhaps a key reason why over 40% of all UK searches for Methylene Blue are by people 18-24.
What dose of Methylene blue is safe to take?
Yet, despite the relative infancy of much of this research, UK citizens seem unconcerned about the supplements health risks. Most scientific literature states you should take less than 2 mg per kilogram of body weight per day. Yet, approx. 200 people make safety or dose-related searches per month. That’s only 2% of the 9,900 searches made per month in the UK related to Methylene blue. In the US it is slightly better with 2,500 searches per month. This is despite the Mayo Clinic listing approx. 30 side effects and 180 drugs to avoid taking it alongside.
Will the trend continue?
Modern societies are under increasing pressure to juggle various life commitments. Therefore, Methylene Blue is likely to continue growing in popularity. As more research emerges, individuals are likely to persist in using Methylene Blue. They want to use the supplement to enhance productivity and mental clarity. The next phase in this supplement’s journey appears to be mainstream media attention. This will fuel further growth and emergent suppliers in the industry.