Imagine being on a sea-faring ship in the early 20th century, your diet poor, disease rampant, and prospects of survival slim. Not a pleasant thought, but thousands of Japanese naval troops suffered beriberi due to a thiamine deficiency until sulbutiamine was synthesized in 1936.
In the case of deficiency, consuming the nutrient thiamine (vitamin B1) does little because it does not easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Scientists discovered that sulbutiamine, two thiamine molecules together, could cross the blood-brain barrier and deliver thiamine to the brain to prevent fatigue, improve memory, and general cognitive abilities.
Even though most modern diets have vitamin B1, supplementing with sulbutiamine helps provide optimal levels of thiamine to support healthy brain function and reduce chronic fatigue related to deficiency. While sulbutiamine studies have existed since 1926, there is relatively little data on the smart drug when compared to modafinil, piracetam, and other popular synthetic options.