While ingesting medications, supplements, or even foods, we can usually rest assured knowing it’s been tested for safety, and that all possible side effects have been thoroughly researched before it's put on shelves. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for 12 weight loss and sports supplements.

Suspicious of several supplement products being sold at major retailers, researchers tested them in two separate laboratories. They published their findings in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis. The new drug they found during their testing is currently being sold in large amounts within each serving of workout supplements. “The stimulant has never been studied in humans; its efficacy and safety are entirely unknown,” researchers wrote in their study.

The synthetic compound 1,3-dimethylbutylamine (DMBA), was found in 12 of the 14 weight loss and sports supplements they tested, and is eerily similar to another stimulant called 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA), a fat destroyer and energy booster that was banned by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012. The FDA deemed DMAA too dangerous because it could narrow blood vessels and arteries, causing shortness of breath, increased blood pressure, tightening in the chest, heart attack, and even death. Because DMBA and DMAA are so structurally similar, there is a strong possibility DMBA will carry with it the same side effects, but until then, people may continue taking the supplement without knowing the possible dangers.

"There's not a single experiment that we are aware of, in which this substance was given to humans," the study’s co-author Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a general internist at Cambridge Health Alliance in Boston told Live Science. "There are likely many more sold by European and Australian distributors, and there are likely many that don't list the AMP or AMP Citrate on the label.”

Supplements Found To Contain DMBA:

  • Contraband (made by Iron Forged Nutrition)
  • Redline White Heat and MD2 Meltdown (made by Vital Pharmaceuticals Inc., distributes under brand name VPX)
  • Evol, AMP Citrate, and Decimate Amplified (made by Genomyx LLC)
  • Oxyfit Xtreme and Synetherm (sold at planetarynutrition.com)
  • AMPitropin and AMPilean (made by Lecheek Nutrition)
  • OxyTHERMPro (made by deNOVOLABS)
  • OxyphenXR AMP'D (made by Beta Labs Ltd.)

"It's impossible for consumers to be able to tell by reading the label which has experimental drugs in it, and which doesn't," Cohen said. "What consumers can do would be to avoid using any supplement that's being sold as if it's going to improve your athletic performance, help you lose weight, or sharpen your thinking."

Source: Cohen PA, Travis JC, and Venhuis BJ. A synthetic stimulant never tested in humans, 1,3-dimethylbutylamine (DMBA), is identified in multiple dietary supplements. Drug Testing and Analysis. 2014.