DMAA may have replaced ephedra-based supplements but its time in the spotlight may soon be over. For many of the reasons ephedra was banned, DMAA may soon see its shelf life has expired.
Destroyer of fat, provider of energy, DMAA is looked at as a superhero supplement. Consumers take DMAA before workouts to help boost performance. Ephedra use was banned in 2004 which led to a search for a new magic workout/fat-burning supplement. While it is labeled as a natural supplement, those claims have raised skeptical eyebrows and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also issued warnings against DMAA.
DMAA, or 1,3-dimethylamylamine or methylhexaneamine as it is known in the science world, was originally developed as a nasal decongestant in 1944 but had been phased out by the 1970's. Fast forward a few years and because of its similar structure to amphetamine and ephedrine, DMAA became popular as a supplement for weight loss and increased workout performance. According to Pieter Cohen, MD, from the Harvard Medical School, DMAA has a similar effect on the human body as adrenaline.
The basis of the claims of DMAA's origins in nature is based on a single study, notes Dr. Cohen in comments made in the Archives of Internal Medicine, in a now defunct journal. The study determined that geranium oil contained 0.7 percent on DMAA but the science behind that is faulty and the follow-up test confirming the presence of DMAA is only mentioned without describing the actual procedure. Future studies, more than six, have not been able to confirm the results of the previous study, says Dr. Cohen.
The FDA has also come down hard on DMAA suppliers for the dubious claims of being natural. Some of the products on the FDA's list include Jack3D, Nitric Blast, Lean Efx, PWR, Napalm and Code Red. Since some manufacturers are labeling DMAA as a dietary ingredient, under law, those manufacturers need to present evidence that the product is safe to use. Ten manufacturers of DMAA products have not submitted any evidence to the FDA and the warning also cited possible health risks with DMAA.
According to the FDA, DMAA may narrow blood vessels and arteries causing shortness of breath, increased blood pressure and tightening in the chest. This could ultimately lead to a heart attack.
The pressure by FDA and leading doctors have caused some manufacturers to adjust DMAA levels but DMAA is still readily available for purchase at General Nutrition Centers (GNC), a popular health and nutrition retail chain.
Dr. Cohen is calling for better regulation of products that are synthetic versions of chemicals found in plants. Instead of being supplements, products such as DMAA should be labeled as a drug and be under the watch of the FDA before it can reach consumers.
DMAA has been labeled a banned substance for athletes by the World Anti-Doping Agency and is also banned by the American military. DMAA has also been labeled as not being a natural substance by Health Canada, the American Herbal Products Association and the American Botanical Council.
The heat is on DMAA and while some advocates cite short-term studies of the effects of DMAA, raising blood pressure to levels that are similar to the effect of drinking two or three cups of coffee, no long-term studies have verified the safety of DMAA.
Researchers note that adding a stimulant to an already stimulated heart and further raising blood pressure is never a good idea. With current pressure on DMAA, its use in supplements may be as extinct as the dodo.