When it comes to exotic stimulants, DMAA is the undisputed king! In case you hadn’t noticed, DMAA has been in the headlines quite a bit over the past few months fighting for its life against the FDA.
But for some of you reading this article, you may only have the slightest inkling what the heck DMAA even is. Sure, you’ve heard it’s a powerful stimulant, but what the heck is it and how does it work?
Sit back, relax, and put on your reading glasses as we’re about to give you a hard and fast primer on the O.G. badass stim!
What is DMAA?
DMAA is categorized as an aliphatic amine — an amine compound where Nitrogen is bonded to only alkyl groups and no aromatic rings are present. It is structurally similar to other powerful stimulants including ephedrine, amphetamine, methamphetamine, and MDMA.[1,2]
DMAA can be found under several different names including:
- Geranium Oil Extract?
- Dimethylamylamine, hence DMAA
DMAA is naturally occurring in geranium plants, though several members of the scientific community heavily disputes this claim.[4,5]
What Does DMAA Do?
In the Central Nervous System (CNS), DMAA exerts a powerful stimulative effect that increases energy levels. More specifically, DMAA stimulates the release of norepinephrine in the body, which increases heart rate and blood pressure, triggers the release of glucose from energy stores, enhances blood flow to skeletal muscle.[6,7]
DMAA in Supplements
DMAA was initially patented by the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and first introduced to the market as a nasal decongestant in 1948. It was subsequently removed as an approved pharmaceutical from the market in the 1970s.
Not until 2006 did DMAA find its way into sports supplements, when Proviant Technologies included it in a product called Clear Shot. From 2006 – 2012, DMAA experienced a tremendous increase in popularity and widespread use in pre workouts, fat burners, and other “productivity” supplements.
That is until the FDA came calling with a batch of warning letters to a number of companies demanding the removal of any and all supplements containing the controversial stimulant.
DMAA’s Descent into Legal Hell
Once the FDA issued the litany of warning letters, DMAA went “dark” for a time.
In the warning letters, the FDA states:
“DMAA is known to narrow the blood vessels and arteries, which can elevate blood pressure and may lead to cardiovascular events ranging from shortness of breath and tightening in the chest to heart attack. The agency has received 42 adverse event reports on products containing DMAA. While the complaints do not establish that DMAA was the cause of the incidents, some of the reports have included cardiac disorders, nervous system disorders, psychiatric disorders, and death.
The agency additionally warned the companies that synthetically-produced DMAA is not a “dietary ingredient” and, therefore, is not eligible to be used as an active ingredient in a dietary supplement. DSHEA defines a dietary ingredient as a vitamin, mineral, amino acid, herb or other botanical, a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet, or a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combination of these substances.”
Here is where DMAA looked like it was clearly persona non grata with the government and companies who had widely used the product including USP Labs, iSatori, Nutrex, and others pulled supplements containing the taboo stimulant.
But that’s not quite the end for DMAA…
Based on the FDA warning letters, one would assume that DMAA would clearly be illegal. However, the gist of all that recent court battles surrounding DMAA’s legality and “naturalness” is that DMAA is NOT illegal.
The catch is that the Feds won’t allow DMAA to be sold or marketed as a supplement.Due to this, DMAA is in the “gray area” of legality, and for the most part, companies won’t go near the controversial ingredient.
Being in the gray isn’t enough for Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticalsthough, who has taken the legal fight to the FDA head on. Hi-Tech contends that DMAA never was officially banned nor was it one of the companies that received a warning letter back in 2012. Additionally, the FDA never commended “Final Agency Action” on the stimulant, which would have banned it.
Although Hi-Tech didn’t receive a warning letter, that didn’t stop the FDA from seizing around $2 million worth of product in November of 2013. This is the point where Hi-Tech said ENOUGH and goes on the offensive against the government in the battle for DMAA “liberty.”
Hi-Tech Files Suit Against FDA
Hi-Tech filed suit against the FDA on November 7, 2013 on the grounds that a warning letter doesn’t constitute law and that DMAA is in line (i.e. “compliant”) with the FDA’s Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA). This would make DMAA a naturally occurring ingredient and therefore safe AND legal!
The FDA countered with two suits of its own in 2014 in an attempt to get Hi-Tech’s lawsuit thrown out. However, these motions by the FDA failed and the battle for DMAA has raged on with both sides scoring minor “victories” along the way.
Most recently, Hi-Tech has filed a motion to vacate a court ruling on DMAA’s status as an appropriate “botanical” ingredient in line with what Congress meant when drafting the 1994 DSHEA
.Is DMAA even safe?
Based on all the legal drama, you’d think that DMAA would kill on sight, but that’s not quite the truth. Don’t be mistaken, DMAA is a stimulant, and can raise blood pressure when dosed above 75mg, but not heart rate.
The FDA has clearly stated that DMAA is not safe. However, a Department of Defense (DoD) review published in 2013 concluded that adverse effects observed in patients could not be blamed on DMAA use.
Furthermore, a toxicology report by Dr. Michael Lumpkin, Senior Toxicologist at the Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health, LLC (CTEH®) concluded:
“Peer-reviewed published clinical trials, as a whole, show that acute (single serving) or subchronic (approximately 12 weeks) DMAA ingestion at doses at or below levels recommended on Hi-Tech product labels (=90 mg per serving) are safe for healthy individuals, and do not indicate clinically-relevant adverse health effects.”
So based on the most recent evidence, it appears that DMAA is safe — when used at or below the recommended dose.
Most of you reading this couldn’t give a rip about DMAA’s legality, you’re just concerned with what it does or how it feels following ingestion.
In a word, DMAA is AMAZING!
If you want mind-bending focus, elevated mood, and increased motivation to crush a workout, DMAA is the answer every time.
With that though, it’s important to note that DMAA does have a fairly rapid tolerance buildup, so it’s generally recommend to use it sparingly (i.e. 2-3 times / week max). Ideally, save it for the days where you want to absolutely destroy the weights in the gym.
Some anecdotal accounts mention a bit of a “crash” when coming down from DMAA’s “high”, so dose on the lower end to start and see how you fare.
There is no ideal dose on DMAA, but supplements generally contain somewhere between 25mg to 70mg per scoop.
If you’re new to DMAA, it is strongly recommended to always start with a ½ scoop serving and assess your reaction. Assuming no complications, you may proceed to a full scoop for endless focus, drive, and energy.
DMAA has experienced quite a tumultuous journey from its initial use way back in 1948. It’s loved by many, loathed by a few, but one thing is undisputed — It’s extremely popular, effective, and sought after.
DMAA is here to stay for the present so make sure to grab some while you can!
Vorce SP, et al. Dimethylamylamine: a drug causing positive immunoassay results for amphetamines . J Anal Toxicol. (2011). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21439156
Fleming HL, Ranaivo PL, Simone PS. Analysis and Confirmation of 1,3-DMAA and 1,4-DMAA in Geranium Plants Using High Performance Liquid Chromatography with Tandem Mass Spectrometry at ng/g Concentrations. Analytical Chemistry Insights. 2012;7:59-78. doi:10.4137/ACI.S10445. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3512447/
Cohen PA. DMAA as a Dietary Supplement Ingredient. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(13):1038-1039. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.1677 http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/1157413
Gauthier TD. Evidence for the Presence of 1,3-Dimethylamylamine (1,3-DMAA) in Geranium Plant Materials. Analytical Chemistry Insights. 2013;8:29-40. doi:10.4137/ACI.S11993. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3682735/
Bloomer RJ, McCarthy CG, Farney TM et al.; “Effect of caffeine and 1,3-dimethylamylamine on exercise performance and blood markers of lipolysis and oxidative stress in trained men and women.” J Caffeine Res (In Press); Retrieved from http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/jcr.2011.0019
Schilling, Brian, et al.; “Physiological and pharmacokinetic effects of oral 1,3-dimethylamylamine administration in men”; BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology; 2013; Retrieved from http://bmcpharmacoltoxicol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2050-6511-14-52
Bloomer RJ, Harvey IC, Farney TM, Bell ZW, Canale RE. Effects of 1,3-dimethylamylamine and caffeine alone or in combination on heart rate and blood pressure in healthy men and women. Phys Sportsmed. 2011;39(3):111-120. doi:10.3810/psm.2011.09.1927. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22030947
Col John Lammie; Report of the Department of Defense 1,3 Dimethylamylamine (DMAA) Safety Review Panel; Department of Defense; June 2013