In the quest for a better body you’ve probably thought about taking a fat burner supplement. It’s probably why you’re here now.
And whilst some ingredients can help ramp up your metabolism or help suppress your appetite safely, others can be dangerous and put your health at risk. Yes you want to get shredded; but you want to do it safely.
So it’s important to know which is which right?
In this article we visit DMAA – a supplement similar to amphetamines and MDMA.
Is it safe to use? We take a look…
What is DMAA?
Methylhexanamine or 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA) is a molecule used by the body to increase energy levels and boost fat loss.
It is said to be derive from geranium oil but recent studies though have failed to identify the presence of DMAA in geranium plant material. This means it is completely manufactured under lab conditions and a synthetic product.
Originally developed and sold as a nasal decongestant, DMAA is classed as an indirect sympathomimetic drug.
This means that it has a direct neurological stimulant effect on your central nervous system. It essentially mimics that effects of stimulants such as epinephrine and other catecholamine hormones.
It was designed because at the time, other nasal medications were being abused due to their psychoactive properties and not for their intended purpose .
What Does DMAA Do?
The effect of a sympathetic nerve stimulant is a surge of energy that is similar to a very strong caffeine hit.
It triggers the receptors responsible for speeding up your heart rate and core body temperature, whilst at the same time blocking the receptors that boost the uptake of calming neurotransmitters.
It is structurally very similar to amphetamines and MDMA, and was first introduced as a dietary supplement back in 2006.
In recent years it has gained notoriety as a popular ‘party drug’ as well as stimulatory supplement. As well as other drugs, it is part of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) list of prohibited substances that show no therapeutic use.
Are there any benefits?
It’s unclear. And if it does it’s only minimal.
DMAA is said to boost focus and cognitive abilities which may help to improve your gyms sessions. It’s main selling point though is that it improves body composition and performance.
The problem is though that there’s not much evidence to support these claims.
For example, a study published in the Journal of Caffeine Research  found that when DMAA was added to caffeine, no improvements to running performance were seen. The only benefit was a slight increase in the amount of fatty acids – but even then it was only small.
So it could help you burn fat?
Manufacturers of the drug claim that it boosts energy and help burn fat via thermogenesis, which means it raises your metabolism.
Like other benefits though, there isn’t much research to suggest that it actually can do this.
The only tentative link is that much like epinephrine, DMAA could in theory tap into the receptors that increase the release of fats from adipose cells. But without definitive research it remains unclear as to whether or not this is true.
Key Point: DMAA is a strong stimulant drug that may have some potential benefits to fat loss but research can’t currently establish what, if any.
Is DMAA Safe to Use?
And there are plenty of clinical case studies to prove it.
Severe adverse reactions
In 2015 a case report was published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine . It detailed a number of different case studies.
The first highlighted how a 21-year old man suffered a cardiac arrest after consuming a supplement containing the drug.
Another report detailed three separate cases of adverse reactions.
One of these cases presented a cerebral hemorrhage, one with loss of feeling in his left side of his face and body, and another with extremely high blood pressure – double that of a healthy individual.
In 2012, a runner collapsed and died as she approached the finish line of the London Marathon .
She had been taking an energy drink containing methylhexanamine even though she had an irregular heart rate. The inquest stated that DMAA was an important factor in her death.
And that’s not a one-off either…
There was also a case study reported where two active duty soldiers died after taking dietary supplements containing DMAA .
They had been taking a stimulant supplement to help improve their body composition and boost energy. Both soldiers went into cardiac arrest after physical fitness training, and ultimately died.
Is it Legal?
The short answer is no. This means that if you purchase a dietary supplement with DMAA in it, it has been added illegally.
In 2012 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) contacted all known distributors of DMAA fat burners with a cease and desist letter.
They warned these manufacturers that the compound needed to be removed from their supplements, and that it was no longer legal to sell them commercially.
Banned by WADA
Not only is DMAA an illegal drug, it is also on the prohibited World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) substances list. This means that any athlete found to be using it faces severe penalties and a likely lifetime ban from competition.
As well as being banned by athletic organizations, DMAA was also banned as a supplement by military bases after the deaths of the two active duty soldiers.
Methylhexanamine or DMAA is a stimulant drug that ramps up your central nervous system much like ephidrine or amphetamines. Although sold as a fat burner there’s not much evidence to suggest that it works.
It is a dangerous supplement and one that you should avoid. It is banned by both the FDA and WADA.
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- Gee, P et al. Use of Recreational Drug 1,3-Dimethylethylamine (DMAA) Associated With Cerebral Hemorrhage. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 2012; 60(4): 431-4
- Bloomer, RJ 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 Caff Res. 2011; 1(3): 169-177
- Karnatovskaia, LV et al. Cardiac Arrest in a 21-Year-Old Man After Ingestion of 1,3-DMAA Containing Workout Supplement. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. 2015; 25(1): e23–e25
- Archer, J et al. Running an unknown risk: a marathon death associated with the use of 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA). Drug Testing & Analysis. 2015; 7(5): 433-438
- Eliason, MJ et al. Case Reports: Death of Active Duty Soldiers Following Ingestion of Dietary Supplements Containing 1,3-Dimethylamylamine (DMAA). Military Medicine . 2012; 177(12): 1455-1459