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3 DMAA Supplement Effects + Side Effects & Dangers

Written by Aleksa Ristic, MS (Pharmacy) | Reviewed by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:
Jonathan Ritter
Puya Yazdi
Medically reviewed by
Jonathan Ritter, PharmD, PhD (Pharmacology), Puya Yazdi, MD | Written by Aleksa Ristic, MS (Pharmacy) | Reviewed by Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharmacy) | Last updated:

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DMAA is a synthetic drug found in dietary supplements and promoted to enhance weight loss and athletic performance. For many years, it was used as a nasal decongestant but was removed from the market because of several safety concerns. What are the health effects and dangers of DMAA? Read on to find out.

Disclaimer: By writing this post, we are not recommending this drug. Some of our readers who were already taking the drug requested that we commission a post on it, and we are simply providing information that is available in the clinical and scientific literature.

As a matter of fact, we strongly advise against using unapproved substances, especially the ones with proven serious health risks.

What Is DMAA?

1,3-Dimethylamylamine, also known as DMAA or geranium extract, is a stimulant commonly found in pre-workout supplements. Although DMAA’s chemical structure is similar to compounds found in geraniums, the DMAA used in dietary supplements is synthetic [1, 2].

DMAA has supposedly been isolated from geranium plants but multiple reports failed to confirm this finding [3].

In 1944, Eli Lilly and Company introduced DMAA as a nasal decongestant. However, DMAA was withdrawn from the market in 1983 [4].

DMAA reappeared in 2006 under the name Geranamine as a key component in weight loss and athletic performance dietary supplements [4].

Since its reintroduction, DMAA has been the subject of serious debate due to alarming concerns about the safety of the product. In 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) demanded 10 manufacturers of DMAA-containing products to prove the safety of DMAA in their products [5].

DMAA is known for increasing athletic performance and has been banned by several sports authorities. In fact, DMAA acts similar to cocaine and methamphetamine, has a high potential for abuse, and may result in serious side effects [6, 4].

What Does DMAA Do?

Although the exact mechanism of action of DMAA is still unknown, this drug acts by imitating the effect of human hormones like adrenaline. DMAA acts on the brain’s reward system to boost energy and on blood vessels to increase blood pressure [4].

By mimicking adrenalin, it activates the fight-or-flight response, similar to other stimulants. This can produce a subjective “high” and lead to abuse. It has been used to increase energy during workouts, for weight loss, as party pills, and even in the military, often marketed as a “legal high” [7, 8].

Is DMAA illegal?

DMAA has been related to dangerous, potentially fatal side effects. Because of this, DMAA-containing products are illegal in several countries, including the United States and Canada [9, 10].

Effects of DMAA

Most of the studies about the effects of DMAA are based on dietary supplements containing DMAA. The conclusions may be misleading because it’s not certain the effects are caused by DMAA. The majority of the studies looked at a specific supplement containing DMAA, OxyELITE Pro, which is currently under legal investigation [11, 12, 13].

1) Fat Burning

A dietary supplement containing DMAA, OxyELITE Pro, contributed to body fat loss in 32 healthy adults (double-blind randomized controlled trial, one capsule/day for 2 weeks) [13].

It also increased fat breakdown and increased body temperature in 12 healthy adults (double-blind randomized controlled trial), which is thought to lead to body fat loss in the long term [14].

2) Effects on Short-Term Memory and Reflexes

To test if DMAA has the potential to be used in stroke recovery in athletics, its cognitive effects were tested in one study (crossover) of 12 healthy young adults. The consumption of 5.5 g of a dietary supplement containing DMAA (Jacked 3D) improved reflexes and short-term memory [11].

3) Physical Performance

In rats, high doses of a dietary supplement containing DMAA (OxyELITE Pro) improved exercise performance. However, after 4 weeks of daily consumption, it lost its effect [12].

How Long Does DMAA Stay In Your System?

When taken orally, DMAA takes around 8 minutes to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Its half-life in the human body is 8.5 hours on average, and it takes more than 24 hours to eliminate it completely from the body [9].

DMAA Side Effects

DMAA is an unapproved substance we strongly advise against. Make sure to consult with your doctor if you’re considering it. If you have been exposed to DMAA and experience poisoning, urgently contact a poison control center near you (call 1-800-222-1222).

DMAA commercialization was banned by the FDA because of its dangerous side effects.

Some studies found DMAA use, at a low dosage (25 mg) and even dosages up to 75 mg with 250 mg of caffeine to be safe. But of the 8 studies that looked at DMAA, 6 were partially or completely funded by companies that make DMAA supplements [9, 15, 16].

The question of if there is there a safe dose of DMAA still remains controversial.

Liver Damage

In 2013, 36 people taking a dietary supplement containing DMAA, OxyELITE Pro, were hospitalized for liver damage. Of the 36, one person died and two people required a liver transplant. All were taking the recommended dose (1-3 scoops or capsules/day). However, 27 of the people were consuming a DMAA-free version of OxyELITE Pro (Super Thermo capsules). It is difficult to determine which compound was toxic [17].

Brain Bleeding

There have been at least 3 reports of people with brain bleeding after the use of DMAA. The users reported consuming DMAA frequently with alcohol or caffeine [18].

A 26-year-old healthy man suffered a severe headache and brain bleeding after consuming 3 scoops (recommended dose) of a dietary supplement containing DMAA, Jack3d [19].

Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

The consumption of 2 capsules of a dietary supplement containing DMAA (OxyELITE Pro) resulted in an increased heart rate and blood pressure in 12 healthy adults (double-blind randomized controlled trial) [14].

56 cases of DMAA exposure in healthy adults were analyzed for side effects, most (80%) from taking OxyELITE Pro before it was banned. Almost a third of the patients had a notable increase in heart rate but that effect may be attributed to other substances like caffeine [20].

A dose of 25 mg of DMAA didn’t have any effect on heart rate or blood pressure in 8 healthy adults [9].

Heart Attack

A healthy 22-year-old man suffered a heart attack after consuming a dietary supplement containing DMAA (Jack3d) and caffeine for 3 weeks [21].

Nausea and Vomiting

In one review, 15% of the 56 patients experienced nausea and vomiting after consuming DMAA supplements. Most were taking OxyElite Pro, so other substances in the product may have contributed to the side effects [20].

Drug Interactions

In a cell study, DMAA blocked the activity of two important enzymes (cytochrome P450 2D6 and 3A4), which break down approximately 25% of commonly used drugs. They help to break down and remove antidepressants, antipsychotics, opioids, and medications for heart problems. When blocked, drugs can build up in the body and reach dangerously high levels, possibly causing liver damage [22, 23].

Alcohol

The combination of alcohol and DMAA in OxyELITE Pro increases the risk of liver damage [12].

A 21-year-old man experienced brain bleeding after consuming alcohol, caffeine, and 556 mg of DMAA [8].

Caffeine

DMAA and caffeine are commonly found together in dietary supplements. 50 healthy men consumed DMAA and caffeine in different concentrations and there was no change in blood pressure and heart rate, even at a high dose (250 mg of caffeine + 50 mg of DMAA, RCT) [24].

The combination of DMAA and caffeine didn’t increase the heart rate of 10 healthy men even at a high dose of caffeine (250 mg of caffeine + 75 mg of DMAA, DB-RCT) [15].

However, as mentioned, one man experienced brain bleeding after combining alcohol, caffeine, and 556 mg of DMAA [8].

Bottom Line: Is DMAA Safe?

According to the FDA and the above reports, DMAA is not safe as at least 4 human deaths have been linked to its use, including two active U.S. soldiers and a runner during a marathon. In one of the cases, the user consumed DMAA, alcohol, and caffeine at the same time [8, 25, 26].

DMAA Drug Test

DMAA concentration in the body can be measured in blood and urine to test for DMAA intoxication [27, 9].

In most sports, if DMAA is detected, the athlete would most probably be disqualified as DMAA is a banned substance [6].

DMAA Supplements and Products

Abuse:

DMAA is commonly abused as “party pills”, along with other drugs and alcohol [8].

Forms:

  • “Raw” DMAA powder [28]
  • Tablets [9]
  • Supplements containing DMAA, the most common being OxyELITE Pro and Jack3d [5]

Geranium Oil Extract?

The presence of DMAA in geranium oil extract is controversial. There are studies that confirm a small amount of natural DMAA in geranium plants, but other studies deny it [28, 29, 3].

Despite the lack of evidence, many products market DMAA as natural [1].

Supplements

The most common form of DMAA is pre-workout supplements. These supplements often contain caffeine, which interacts with DMAA to boost athletic performance [19].

Many dietary supplements used to contain DMAA because of its weight loss properties. However, it was banned by the FDA [5, 30].

The most popular supplements containing DMAA are OxyELITE Pro and Jack3d. There are over 250 dietary supplements containing DMAA on the black market, including [5]:

  • Biorhythm SSIN Juice
  • Code Red
  • Hemo Rage Black
  • Jack3d
  • Lean Efx
  • Lipo-6 Black Ultra
  • Lipo-6 Black
  • Lipo-6 Black Hers Ultra
  • Lipo-6 Black Hers
  • MethylHex 4,2
  • Napalm
  • Nitric Blast
  • OxyELITE Pro
  • PWR
  • Spirodex

The ingredients listed for OxyELITE Pro are 119.5 mg of a proprietary blend (Bauhinia purpurea L. (Leaf and Pod) extract, Bacopa monnieri (Leaf) Extract, 1,3-Dimethylamylamine HCl (DMAA), Cirsium oligophyllum (Plant) Extract, Pausinystalia Yohimbe (Bark) Extract) and 100 mg of caffeine [17].

The ingredients listed for Jack3d is 4,145 mg of a proprietary blend of arginine a-ketoglutarate, creatine monohydrate, b-alanine, caffeine, 1,3-dimethylamylamine (DMAA), and schizandrol [11].

DMAA Dangers Compared To Other Questionable Substances

Adderall

Adderall is a drug used to treat ADHD and abused to improve athletic performance. Unlike DMAA, Adderall is legal but banned from professional sports [31, 32].

Considering that Adderall is an addictive stimulant, its abuse may also lead to serious health problems [32].

Adderall consumption has been linked to heart attacks and even sudden death. One 20-year-old male had a heart attack after consuming 30 mg of Adderall. However, just as with DMAA, alcohol abuse may have been a contributing factor [33].

However, when used as prescribed, Adderall has less pronounced side effects. The most common reported adverse effects of Adderall are increased heart rate and blood pressure with little long-term damage [34].

Ephedrine

Ephedrine is a medicine used to increase blood pressure during anesthesia, as a decongestant, and also for weight loss. Ephedrine is a stimulant and can lead to abuse and addiction [35].

The use of ephedrine in the United States and Canada is not illegal but restricted to a specific dosage. According to Health Canada, the consumption of ephedrine must not exceed 32 mg/day for any longer than 7 days [36].

The consumption of ephedrine has been associated with several side effects. In a meta-analysis, ephedrine was linked to mental health, gut, and heart conditions [37, 35].

DMHA

Dimethylhexylamine (DMHA), also known as Octodrine, is a stimulant with similar chemical structure and properties as DMAA. It was previously used as a nasal decongestant in the 1950s and reintroduced in the market as a dietary supplement just as DMAA had been [38].

DMHA also purportedly boosts energy levels, focus, concentration, and is mainly used for weight loss [39].

DMHA is not banned in the United States as it hasn’t shown any serious side effects. However, some adverse effects are high blood pressure, shortness of breath, and high body temperature. DMHA is banned by sports authorities as it may increase athletic performance [38, 6].

Dosage, Limitations, and Reviews

Dosage

There is no safe dosage for DMAA, since it is an unapproved new drug that poses a significant safety risk. Below is a summary of the dosages used in scientific research, outlined for informational purposes. We highly advise against the use of DMAA.

The content of DMAA in dietary supplements containing DMAA varies a lot, as it can range from 25 to 278 mg per capsule, depending on the product. A dosage of up to 75 mg DMAA and 250 mg caffeine was deemed “safe” as it didn’t increase heart rate in a couple of trials [9, 24, 15].

Limitations and Caveats

  • Contradicting studies: There are several studies that reach opposing conclusions regarding DMAA’s safety and origin (natural or synthetic) [10, 29, 3].
  • Lack of studies analyzing the effects of DMAA in isolation: Most of the studies about the effects of DMAA are based on dietary supplements containing DMAA. The dosage of DMAA in the supplements is not specified and is usually listed as a proprietary blend. The conclusions may be misleading because it’s not certain the effects are caused by DMAA [11, 12, 13].
  • Biased studies: Several studies that supported DMAA’s safety were sponsored by a company responsible for manufacturing dietary supplements containing DMAA [12].

User Reviews

The opinions expressed in this section are solely from the users who may or may not have a medical background. SelfHacked does not endorse any specific product, service, or treatment. Do not consider user experiences as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on SelfHacked.

Positive reviews:

Most users stated that they were amazed by the weight-loss properties of a DMAA-containing product (OxyELITE Pro). Also, many of them were impressed by the amount of energy that they felt after consuming it.

Users also admired the short amount of time that it takes to notice DMAA’s effects.

Negative reviews:

The major complaint that users had of DMAA was the presence of intense headaches after consuming the product for the first time. Also, some people suffered from headaches after they stopped taking DMAA.

Also, many people experienced nausea occasionally after consuming DMAA.

Where to Buy

There are vendors that sell DMAA and Octodrine for research purposes.

Want Better Results from Your Training?

If you’re interested in natural and targeted ways of lowering your inflammation, we recommend checking out SelfDecode’s Fitness DNA Wellness Report. It gives genetic-based diet, lifestyle and supplement tips that can help improve your health and fitness. The recommendations are personalized based on your genes.

SelfDecode is a sister company of SelfHacked. The proceeds from your purchase of this product are reinvested into our research and development, in order to serve you better. Thanks for your support!

About the Author

Aleksa Ristic

Aleksa Ristic

MS (Pharmacy)
Aleksa received his MS in Pharmacy from the University of Belgrade, his master thesis focusing on protein sources in plant-based diets. 
Aleksa is passionate about herbal pharmacy, nutrition, and functional medicine. He found a way to merge his two biggest passions—writing and health—and use them for noble purposes. His mission is to bridge the gap between science and everyday life, helping readers improve their health and feel better.

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