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Posted August 7, 2011

Performance Enhancing Ingredient, DMAA, Not Really from Geraniums, Putting Its Use in Supplements in Doubt

On July 29, 2011, the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) announced a new requirement that products containing the sports performance enhancing compound DMAA (also known as 1,3-dimethlypentlyamine, 1,3 dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine, or MHA), not be labeled as geranium oil or any part of the geranium plant. AHPA found the evidence of DMAA coming from geranium to be inconclusive.

The AHPA statement is important. It suggests that DMAA in supplements is not derived from geraniums, therefore, puts in doubt whether DMAA should be permissible in dietary supplements. The basis for allowing it was the belief that is naturally found in geranium oil, which is approved for use in foods.

DMAA is a stimulant compound – somewhat similar in structure to amphetamines and ephedrine -- and considered a performance enhancing agent. It is prohibited from use by athletes by the World Anti-Doping Agency. It has been used in dietary supplements for weight loss and bodybuilding. Several elite athletes have tested positive for it and received suspensions from competition. In some of these cases, the athletes claimed they had been inadvertently exposed to the compound from products they used.

According to an article on Wikipedia, the compound was originally developed as a nasal decongestant. It was introduced as a dietary supplement into the U.S. market in 2006 under the trade name Geranamine. It has been sold combined with caffeine as a thermogenic or general purpose stimulant. It is reported to be used as a party drug in New Zealand. Side-effects including headache, nausea, and stroke have been reported in recreational users of these products.

The Canadian government has classified DMAA as a drug and not acceptable as an ingredient in supplements due to its pharmacological activity.

The announcement by AHPA is available from the link below.

For information about other supplements used in sports and bodybuilding see ConsumerLab.com's Product Review of Muscle Enhancers.