The safety of using a DMAA supplement to build muscle or lose weight is being seriously questioned. Last month the Food and Drug Administration warned 10 makers of DMAA supplements that they have failed to provide evidence that their products are safe. Shortly after the FDA issued its DMAA warning, a Harvard researcher called for an outright ban of the speed-like substance.
Goodby ephedra, hello DMAA
DMAA, or 1,3-dimethylamylamine, is marketed as a stimulant that boosts energy and burns fat. It can be found in about 200 supplement brands including Code Red, Hemo Rage Black, Hydroxystim, Jack3D, Napalm, and Nitric Blast. DMAA came into wide use as a replacement for ephedra after the FDA banned the substance in 2004.
Under current law, companies selling products with new ingredients such as DMAA that were not added to a dietary supplement before Oct. 15, 1994, must prove to the FDA that the new ingredient is safe. According to the agency, no current evidence exists showing DMAA is a safe ingredient. Unless supplement manufacturers confirm DMAA safety, it isn’t eligible for use as an active ingredient in a dietary supplement.
DMAA side effects
Ephedra was banned due to accumulating evidence of adverse effects and deaths. To date the FDA has received 42 reports about adverse events after use of products containing DMAA. In March two U.S. Army soldiers died suddenly during workouts after using DMAA products.
In it’s warning letter issued to DMAA manufacturers, the FDA said “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.”
History of DMAA
DMAA is marketed as a “natural” stimulant. But dimethylamylamine was originally concocted in the lab as a nasal decongestant in 1944. Approved use for that purpose was discontinued because of safety concerns in the 1970′s. DMAA was selected to replace ephedra as a supplement for weight loss and increased workout performance because its molecular structure is similar to amphetamine and ephedrine.
Canada has already banned DMAA from all supplements and Dr. Pieter Cohen of the Harvard Medical School published a letter in the “Archives of Internal Medicine” saying DMAA “should never have been in supplements in first place.”
Geranium oil claims bogus
According to Cohen, claims by manufacturers that DMAA is a natural ingredient are bogus because they cite only one study published in a now-defunct journal claiming it was an ingredient in geranium oil. In his letter, Cohen said DMAA is even more potent than ephedra. “At best,” he wrote, “DMAA is a waste of money and at worst, it can damage your health.”
Supplement industry responds
Until the FDA issues an outright ban, the supplement industry is spinning the warning as much ado about nothing. The Council for Responsible Nutrition, a lobbying group for supplement makers, says that because DMAA hasn’t yet been confirmed as safe, it remains unclear that any safety issues exist.
In a statement, Steve Mister, president and CEO of CRN, said of the FDA, “If they really thought there was a causal connection between reports of death and DMAA, they would use their recall authority and they’ve chosen not to use that.”
That guy should run for Congress.