Hordenine - An Overview
Hordenine (N,N-Dimethyltyramine, Anhaline, peyocactine) is an all-natural extract from the Anhalonium fissuratum cactus plant that may have some nootropic benefits. It is used for:
- Attention and alertness
- Antibiotic and antimicrobial properties
- Skin protection
Hordenine is naturally found in barley, and may be present in low levels in beer.8Jay D. Mann, Carol E. Steinhart, S. Harvey Mudd. Alkaloids and Plant Metabolism V. THE DISTRIBUTION AND FORMATION OF TYRAMINE METHYLPHERASE DURING GERMINATION OF BARLEY, The Journal Of Biological Chemistry. 1963
What Does Hordenine Do?
Hordenine is a known stimulant. It is actually effective enough that it is banned in horse racing.
It stimulates heart function, constricts blood vessels and relaxes bronchioles, making it a performance enhancing drug in this sport.1Frank M, et al. Hordenine: pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and behavioural effects in the horse, Equine Vet J. 1990
Hordenine can increase the effect of norepinephrine by inhibiting MAO-B, which breaks it down. Norepinepherine is a stimulatory transmitter that mobilizes the brain and body for action.
So, increasing levels of this hormone can have a definite stimulatory effect.2Barwell CJ, Basma AN, Lafi MA, Leake LD. Deamination of hordenine by monoamine oxidase and its action on vasa deferentia of the rat, J Pharm Pharmacol. 1989
One study shows that it “increases systolic and diastolic blood pressure, peripheral blood flow volume.”
It releases stored epinephrine vs stimulating new epinephrine to give a slight jolt. All effects are short and only possible after high doses, it concluded.3Hapke HJ, Strathmann W. Pharmacological effects of hordenine,Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr. 1995
Hordenine can inhibit melanin production. Melanin is a necessary skin pigment, but when it is overproduced, it can cause skin issues like melasma or discoloration.
However, there is some evidence that hordenine can decrease melanin production by up to 30%.
It does this by inhibiting cAMP production, which is a melanin precursor. 4Kim SC, et al. Hordenine, a single compound produced during barley germination, inhibits melanogenesis in human melanocytes, Food Chem. 2013
How Hordenine Works In The Brain
Hordenine is a phenylethylamine alkaloid. Although researchers are not totally sure of it’s exact mechanism of action, it seems to work as a monoamine oxidase inhibitor.
Monoamine oxidase (MAO) is an enzyme that breaks down neurotransmitters like dopamine and epinephrine.
So, by inhibiting MAO, hordenine could raise overall levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain. This may be the reason for its effect on mood and motivation. 5A. Schweitzer and Samson Wright. Action of hordenine compounds on the central nervous system, J Physiol. 1938
This mechanism of action means that hordenine may be most useful when combined with other nootropics.
For example, phenylethylamine (PEA) is a nootropic that can have great effects on cognition, but it is quickly broken down by MAO.
However, taking it with an MAO inhibitor like hordenine may help extend its effects.
Some users swear by the hordenine PEA stack, although it has not been studied clinically. There are also numerous reports of potentially dangerous side-effects (including addiction) from combining these two nootropics.
Hordenine also has antibacterial and antibiotic properties, and may be useful against staph infection in particular. 6Leen Othman, et al. Antimicrobial Activity of Polyphenols and Alkaloids in Middle Eastern Plants, Front. Microbiol. 2019
It can also reduce cAMP production, which in turn reduces melanin. This may have benefits for some skin issues. 7Kim SC, et al. Hordenine, a single compound produced during barley germination, inhibits melanogenesis in human melanocytes., Food Chem. 2013
Hordenine Potential Side Effects
Hordenine has not been studied on humans extensively, so its side effect profile is somewhat unknown.
Hordenine may have potentially serious side effects when taken with other medications due to its MAOI effects.
It may cause too many neurotransmitters to build up in the synapses, so consult your physician if you are on any medication.
Because it reduces melanin production, it may decrease UV protection.
We strive to bring you the most up to date, research-based information about Hordenine and other nootropics.
Something we missed? Do you use Hordenine? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.
About the author:
Erik Levi is a co-founder of HolisticNootropics.com and a certified holistic nutritional therapy practitioner.
As an NTP Erik takes a nutrition first approach to health. He has worked with many different people to help them use nutrition to optimize their quality of life.
Erik believes that mental health is a physiological process and cognitive enhancement is not something that can be achieved by just taking some pills with good Amazon reviews.
Instead, true cognitive enhancement comes with the right balance of nutrients, movement, and gratitude. Erik continues to stay up to date with the most current nootropic and holistic health research and promises to deliver the best solutions possible.
You can check out his personal health blog/podcast/YouTube Channel all under the name Holistic A-Hole.