Stimulant marketed as 'natural' in sports supplement actually of synthetic origin

July 12, 2012

A new study published in the journal Drug Testing and Analysis found that DMAA, a stimulant often found in many nutritional and sports supplements, does not originate from natural substances and is actually comprised of synthetic compounds.

The substance DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine) is a existing in various pre-workout supplements and often labeled as part of geranium plants. The safety and origin of DMAA in these supplements is often the subject of intense debate and has been recently linked to the death of two U.S. soldiers, causing the Army to pull the supplement from its commissaries.

Researchers led by Daniel W. Armstrong, Ph.D., of the University of Texas at Arlington, set out to determine the unique isomeric ratios of synthetic substances (DMAA) and which are distinctly different and therefore can be used to distinguish between the two. Eight different geranium extracts of different were examined for the presence of DMAA. No DMAA was found in any of the geranium extracts.

Results showed that the DMAA actually consists of 4 different compounds called stereoisomers and that the unique isomeric ratios in synthetic DMAA were the same as those found for the DMAA in all supplements. Thus, the DMAA in supplements could not have originated from the geranium plant.

"The FDA should regulate and/or ban products in which significant amounts of synthetic pharmacological compounds are added," Armstrong opined. "Also, this information should be clearly labeled – including their effects and possible side effects – so that consumers can make an informed choice.

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not rated yet Jul 12, 2012
stereoisomers of DMAA? or of something else?
Jul 12, 2012
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not rated yet Jul 13, 2012
If there was any natural DMAA present, and the same evaluations for stereoisomers were done, it would find only two structures (R-, or S-) for each asymetrically- substituted carbon. Since there are 2 asymetric carbons in DMAA, there should be just ONE of 4 possible stereoisomers (R,R-, R,S-, S,R- or R,R-). If all 4 are present, it was made synthetically. Separation of these stereoisomers was NOT attempted, as it is likely to be very expensive.
not rated yet Jul 13, 2012
By the way- the 3 synthetic stereoisomers are likely to be inactive, or possibly even toxic. Only the (unknown?) natural stereoisomer is likely to be bioactive- if it is ever found in somebody's geraniums??? Where in China does this synthetic product come from?
not rated yet Jul 13, 2012
Thank you dacarls!
"the 3 synthetic stereoisomers are likely to be inactive, or possibly even toxic".
This is why I freak out that generic meds are allowed to have stereoisomers.. Ambien for instance worked great for me back when I needed it. The generic form bought at Cosco did literally nothing.. just makes me wonder...

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