Methylene blue was originally synthesized in 1876 and used as an antimalarial drug until it fell out of favor with the rise of quinine. This synthetic dye is named for its ability to stain tissue and urine with a dark blue hue. More recently, methylene blue has been a preferred treatment for methemoglobinemia, a condition where a person’s blood cannot properly transport oxygen throughout the body, and urinary tract infections. Cut to today, methylene blue has emerged as a promising treatment for Lyme disease and Bartonella, a common tick-borne co-infection.
Methylene blue has powerful antimicrobial properties, and it is generally easier on the gut than an antibiotic. When used in combination with other drugs or herbal treatments, it may be particularly effective at eradicating the persistent biofilms that plague so many Lyme and Bartonella patients, according to a 2020 research study published in BMC Microbiology. While more research is needed to better understand the long-term effects of methylene blue, many tick-borne disease specialists have reported that their patients are seeing significant progress on this treatment.
How It’s Used
Methylene blue can be administered intravenously or taken as a compounded supplement (which tends to be the preferred method for Lyme and Bartonella patients). It is typically prescribed in 50 mg doses—as Lyme disease expert Dr. Richard Horowitz recommends with his double-dapsone treatment—though the dosage may vary depending on the treatment in question and the patient’s history.
Methylene blue is generally well-tolerated by patients. But you should always take this medication under the supervision of a doctor, as methylene blue can interact with a wide range of drugs, including antidepressants, and may be harmful to patients with liver or kidney disease. While some side effects, like methylene blue turning your urine blue or temporarily staining your teeth or mouth, are relatively benign, others can be quite dangerous.
Common side effects may include:
- Blue urine
- Stained mouth or teeth
- Headache or dizziness
- Altered sense of taste
- Pain in your extremities
Notify your caregiver or doctor right away if you experience:
- Allergic reaction (e.g., swelling of face, difficulty breathing, or hives)
- Sudden fever
- Pale or yellow skin
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Blue hands or feet
Other side effects may also occur. For example, methylene blue has been known to cause a Herxheimer reaction in some patients. If you have any concerns about your symptoms, please contact your doctor.