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DMBA: unknown amphetamine-like substance found in 13 supplements

Researchers at Harvard Medical School have found a stimulant that is related to DMAA in a dozen supplements. The stuff is called 1,3-dimethylbutylamine and was also found in Dedicated's sports supplement Unstoppable by the Dutch RIVM research institute. [ 18 augustus 2014] How safe the substance is has never been examined.

What is it?
The compound, which was discovered by Pieter Cohen and Bastiaan Venhuis, is called 1,3 dimethylbutylamine [DMBA], but chemists sometimes call it 2-amino-4-methylpentane or 4-methyl-2-pentanamine. Supplement manufacturers call it 4-amino-2-2methylpentane citrate, AMP citrate, 1,3-dimethylbutylamine citrate, 4-amino-2-pentanamine, Pentergy or 4-AMP.

We, the humble makers of this free web magazine, stick to DMBA.

DMBA is a stripped down version of DMAA, a substance that has amphetamine effects without the amphetamine structure. DMAA has now been banned by governments all over the world. DMBA seems to be a replacement that supplement manufacturers have found.

DMBA: unknown amphetamine-like substance found in 13 supplements

You come across DMBA in the same literature where supplement makers previously found DMAA. It's a synthetic compound, but there's an obscure Chinese study that claims that traces of DMBA are found in Pouchong tea [J. Chin. Agric. Chem. Soc. 1998, 36, 630.] Pouchong tea is a slightly fermented form of Oolong tea. Cohen and Venhuis are not totally convinced about the veracity of the study, as the methodology is not a hundred percent correct.

But, if the Chinese analysis is correct, you'd need 100 kg Pouchong tea to obtain 12 mg DMBA. That means that DMBA found in supplements doesn't come from tea - and that the label on the Unstoppable, the Dedicated supplement, falls into the category consumer fraud.

RIVM, a Dutch governmental research institute, found DMBA in Unstoppable this summer, after a bodybuilder reported serious health problems. The label didn't list DMBA, but did say that Unstoppable contained Ampheta Tea a natural extract from tea with a strong resemblance to... Ok, you get it.

DMBA: unknown amphetamine-like substance found in 13 supplements

Another possible source also according to another obscure Chinese study is Coreopsis tinctoria. [Shipin Yu Fajiao Gongye 2013, 39, 170] but this study has some methodological problems too. Ergo: the DMBA in the supplements that Cohen and Venhuis analysed comes out of a factory, not out of a plant.

DMBA: unknown amphetamine-like substance found in 13 supplements

Unstoppable is not one of the supplements they analysed. The researchers confined themselves to supplements that mentioned DMBA on the label.

Two products Hybrid's PreAmp and Genomyx' AMP Citrate contained no DMBA, although the manufacturers claimed they did. The strongest concentration of DMBA was found in Lecheek Nutrition's AMPitropin.

How dangerous is DMBA?
We don't know. The researchers found two animal studies from the 1940s in which the stimulatory effect of DMBA in cats and dogs had been measured. And that's all there is. There are no human studies, not even toxicological studies. There are not even any studies in which scientists have measured what DMBA does to liver cells in a test tube.

The side effects of DMBA that have been reported seem to resemble those of other stimulants. "So far, three cases of adverse effects were reported for this supplement", the researchers write. "The symptoms were similar and included the feeling of rushing, difficulty sitting still, a sense of motion and increased focus."

Right now DMBA is not on the doping list, but you can bet your bottom dollar the WADA will be changing this soon. Athletes who are tested risk being banned from competitions if they consume DMBA.

"Our objective was to determine if a stimulant never before sold for human consumption, DMBA, was present in dietary supplements", the researchers write. "We found that at least a dozen supplements contain DMBA in dosages from 13 to 120 mg per serving."

"Given the potential health risks of untested pharmacologic stimulants, we strongly recommend that manufactures immediately recall all DMBA containing supplements. The FDA and other regulatory bodies should, without delay, warn consumers about the presence of DMBA in dietary supplements and clarify the legal status of DMBA. Until consumers can be assured that sports, weight loss and mind enhancing supplements do not contain untested pharmaceutical drugs, these products should be avoided."

Drug Test. Analysis (2014) doi 10.1002/dta.1735.

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