Is DMAA the new Ephedrine? Is it Dangerous?
Updated: Jun 8, 2021
DMAA or 1, 3 dimethylamylamine has received a lot of controversial press lately.
Original post: September 23, 2011
You’ll see DMAA also described on labels as Geranamine or Methylhexanamine Some of the controversy stems from athletes claiming they were unaware they were taking a banned substance. Yes it is banned by the World Doping Agency, responsible for monitoring drugs in sport. Although the variable nomenclature used to describe it on labels may factor contributing to its accidental consumption by tested athletes, I’m more apt to thinking these athletes were aware that they were taking a powerful stimulant and didn’t do their due diligence to confirm whether it is being tested or simply got caught trying to slide it by
Does it work as a stimulant and performance enhancer? It does but it does so with the potential of a few side-effects, especially if it’s abused. It’s abuse as a party drug, has in fact, led to this potent psychoactive drug being banned and categorized as illegal by the government of New Zealand. US FDA is closely monitoring the drug as it’s sold in the US health food channel as neither a banned substance nor an approved substance. So where does this leave us in terms of the FDA-related legalities and safety status. At this time both are up in the air with regards to the US. However, Canada has not approved its sale and this is good enough to make it illegal for sale in Canada, based on how Canadian NHPD operates.
So why is DMAA so controversial?
DMAA is very similar to ephedrine from its roots as a nasal decongestant to its effectiveness as a fat burning and appetite suppressing ingredient. The drug was patented in the early 1940’s by pharmaceutical giant, Eli Lilly. The original research involved applications for asthma and congestion but was abandoned as a bronchodilator. With ephedrine well on the way to meticulous regulation by health authorities worldwide, DMAA has gained monumental popularity amongst hard core athletes and enthusiasts of fast track ways to lean and mean as an available alternative to ephedrine.
Although ephedrine has irrefutably been linked to serious cerebro- and cardio-vascular side-effects that include increased risk for stroke and heart attack he intense focus on ephedrine over the last five years by regulatory agencies has another motive that is usually hidden under the health risk rationale. Ephedrine is often used by underground drug labs as a platform or precursor for amphetamine synthesis. Hence, the intense and swift move to gain control of the common nasal decongestant.
Pharmaceutical and nutraceutical keeners are quick to introduce the next best thing to fill the market void. Enter DMAA as an ephedrine substitute – and before regulatory agencies can look twice, huge demand for DMAA has it streaming to the shelves in different blends and under different identities. Some identities even have it cloaked as an extract natural from geranium, geranimine. Liars! In order get any DMAA-related stimulatory effect from the geranium plant you’d need more than 5 grams; that’s 5000 mg per dose.
Is DMAA Safe? DMAA is very similar to Ephedrine. Both are powerful stimulants and DMAA may even have a greater effect on the mind than Ephedrine does. There seems to be a euphoric feeling associated with its use after the intense stimulatory effect begins to fade. Within 10 minutes of taking the stimulant, mind and body, including heart begin to race. Within 20 minutes mental focus is intense and the lights seem to get brighter. As the revving slows about 90 minutes post-administration, the euphoric feeling takes over with the body beginning to calm and mind staying heightened and aware beyond baseline.
There isn’t enough formal data on the drug to determine reliable safety parameters. However, based on the
However, these risks escalate if the drug is combined with other stimulants like caffeine, and then again increase when the body is under extreme load associated with exercise or competitive sport. The risks increase again if exposed to heat and or dehydration. Problem is, these conditions are usually all compounded in the case of the athlete or fat loss initiative. known pharmacology of DMAA which includes vasoconstriction (blood vessel narrowing), elevated heart rate, the risks arelikely aligned quite similarly to those of ephedrine: increased risk of stroke, high blood pressure, aneurysm, lethal exhaustion.
Other phsycal side-effects include impotence or lack of full erection due to the vasoconstriction. Because it is a psychoactive drug, mood swings including depression due the dopamine shifts accompany its use; and even episodes of anger during withdrawal. In my opinion the main thrust of the FDA and NHPD motive to regulate ephedrine is the attempt to gain better control on underground methamphetamine production. It does not forgo, however, the real risks if the drug were to be misused. Like all stimulants taking too much is inherently dangerous – this is true for caffeine too. Although 25-50 mg per dose is the common dosing we see, the dangerous dose is rather an individual thing based on the compounding factors.
Dangerous situations to avoid in combination with DMAA
If you have cardiovascular ailments
Exercising in extreme heat without proper hydration
Overdosing on stimulants, including stacking stimulants
Using in situations that prevent you from resting to reduce heart rate in a controlled manner
Although there are many who can safely use DMAA, there will be those who are at risk and those who will abuse it. I believe one day sooner than later it will fall into regulatory disfavour and be controlled just like ephedrine is today. ‘When’ is only a matter of time.
However as it stands today, DMAA works very well and it is currently legal to use in the US. It definitely serves to help manage appetite and strengthens mental fortitude if the user is of a healthy state to begin with and respects the ‘drug’. If other manufacturers were more honest about it in their formulas – perhaps we would have more time to use DMAA legally and with greater awareness and safety in the future. My final recommendation on this powerful drug/supplement is to err on the side of caution and it will serve you well. Use it without respect and you’ll be bitten by a powerful drug that can be intensely addictive.
I have to summarize by saying that DMAA is definitely the new ephedrine on the block. It feels a bit different than ephedrine but the biochemistry is similar enough for it to fit into the ephedrine vacuum recently created by the ephedrine ban in the health food channel. Is it danmgerous?
Well it’s not yet had an opportunity to work its way into the population to be used for a period long enough to evaluate its viability and safety. Lets face it, it doesnt matter how much research we do in the lab or in clinicals. the real test of the products effectiveness and safety doesn not occur until the chemical is infused into the population and the adverse reactions as well as real life success are reported over a long enough period. THE NON-SUSPECTING PUBLIC IS REALLY THE FINAL TEST GROUP FOR ALL DRUGS OR NUTRACEUTICALS.
The thing that concerns me is the fact that research by pharmaceutical giant, Eli Lilly, in the molecule’s infancy, led to shelving the ingredient several decades ago. It surfaces today as a controversial ingredient as ephedrine is on its way to meticulous regulation. Why was it shelved? What did they uncover?
It may very well be that the researchers were uncertain about the safety of this class of drug in the public domain and now that ephedrine has played out its effective tenure, the manufacturers of DMAA are more comfortable. After all, ephedrine is not dangerous if used in accordance with proper protocol and the user doesn’t have any pre-existing genetic or metabolic disease. I still believe the main reason for ephedrine’s ban is the methamphetamine link. With regards to DMAA safety; it will be established in a year or so after public use and the resulting feedback has laid down the platform for a ‘real life’ drug monograph. Are you part of the experiment?