2020 Updates. Two reviews of interest examining the data and possible mechanisms of how creatine is a potential benefit to TBI as well as being generally neuro protective worth reading:
Another review just published – Beyond muscle: the effects of creatine supplementation on brain creatine, cognitive processing, and traumatic brain injury – follows below:
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) has been getting a great deal of attention recently due to vets, NFL, etc, and the DOD identified creatine as a nutrient of interest for TBI over a decade ago for military populations yet little follow up far as I know. Here’s a recent study looking at creatine and TBI in adolescents, and suggest that creatine is very neuro protective with both acute (TBI) and chronic injury. Taken alone, this study is not impressing being a Open Label/Pilot Study, but when added to the growing lit showing the various brain related benefits of creatine, it’s more creatine win in my view:
There has been an enormous focus on the discovery and development of neuroprotective agents that might have clinical relevance after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Based on experimental facts, we studied administration of creatine to patients with TBI.
A prospective, randomized, comparative, open-labeled pilot study of the possible neuroprotective effect of creatine was performed on 39 children and adolescents, aged between 1 to 18 years old, with TBI. The creatine was administered for 6 months, at a dose of 0.4 gr/kg in an oral suspension form every day. For categorical variables, we used the χ2 test to identify differences between controls and cases. Statistical significance was defined as a p value <0.05 and not statistically significant if p value >0.1.
The administration of creatine to children with TBI improved results in several parameters, including duration of post-traumatic amnesia (PTA), duration of intubation, intensive care unit (ICU) stay, disability, good recovery, self care, communication, locomotion, sociability, personality/behavior and neurophysical, and cognitive function. Significant improvement was recorded in the categories of Cognitive (p < 0.001), personality/behavior (p < 0.001), Self Care (p = 0.029), and communication (p = 0.018) aspects in all patients. No side effects were seen because of creatine administration.
Preliminary data suggest that the administration of creatine may be beneficial to patients with traumatic brain injury.
Beyond muscle: the effects of creatine supplementation on brain creatine, cognitive processing, and traumatic brain injury.
Eur J Sport Sci. 2019 Feb;19(1):1-14.
The ergogenic and therapeutic effects of increasing muscle creatine by supplementation are well-recognized. It appears that similar benefits to brain function and cognitive processing may also be achieved with creatine supplementation, however research in this area is more limited, and important knowledge gaps remain.
The purpose of this review is to provide a comprehensive overview of the current state of knowledge about the influence of creatine supplementation on brain function in healthy individuals. It appears that brain creatine is responsive to supplementation, however higher, or more prolonged dosing strategies than those typically used to increase muscle creatine, may be required to elicit an increase in brain creatine. The optimal dosing strategy to induce this response, is currently unknown, and there is an urgent need for studies investigating this.
When considering the influence of supplementation strategies on cognitive processes, it appears that creatine is most likely to exert an influence in situations whereby cognitive processes are stressed, e.g. during sleep deprivation, experimental hypoxia, or during the performance of more complex, and thus more cognitively demanding tasks.
Evidence exists indicating that increased brain creatine may be effective at reducing the severity of, or enhancing recovery from mild traumatic brain injury, however, only limited data in humans are available to verify this hypothesis, thus representing an exciting area for further research.
Another excellent review paper that strongly supports the potential benefits of creatine in TBI is:
Potential for use of creatine supplementation following mild traumatic brain injury
J. Concussion. 2017 Jun; 2(2):
There is significant overlap between the neuropathology of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and the cellular role of creatine, as well as evidence of neural creatine alterations after mTBI. Creatine supplementation has not been researched in mTBI, but shows some potential as a neuroprotective when administered prior to or after TBI. Consistent with creatine’s cellular role, supplementation reduced neuronal damage, protected against the effects of cellular energy crisis and improved cognitive and somatic symptoms. A variety of factors influencing the efficacy of creatine supplementation are highlighted, as well as avenues for future research into the potential of supplementation as an intervention for mTBI. In particular, the slow neural uptake of creatine may mean that greater effects are achieved by pre-emptive supplementation in at-risk groups.
Will Brink is the owner of the Brinkzone Blog. Will has over 30 years experience as a respected author, columnist and consultant, to the supplement, fitness, bodybuilding, and weight loss industry and has been extensively published. Will graduated from Harvard University with a concentration in the natural sciences, and is a consultant to major supplement, dairy, and pharmaceutical companies.
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