What is DMAA and why is it called a Geranium extract?

Cara Marshall

1,3-dimethylamylamine – this compound (also called Methylhexanamine or DMAA) has caught on to be called Geranium or Geranamine. A few words for a start – DMAA has nothing to do with this plant. The research has proven that a related substance appears only in one Geranium variety – Pelargonium – and only in trace amounts [1.2]. Large amounts of geranium cranesbill and spire ensure energy,  but thanks to present there methylxanthenes (i.e. theophylline and similar, found for example in tea or cocoa).  DMAA has nothing in common with plant supplements and the fact of detecting trace amounts of geranamine in the Chinese variation of this plant has been used to legally launch an amphetamine derivative, which is DMAA. The only difference is in the lack of aromatic ring and the fact that there do not appear its enantiomers.

DMAA included to supplements as geranium is a substance with a smaller influence on the central nervous system than amphetamine, but also has a smaller influence on the peripheral nervous system than ephedrine. It may be said that it is somewhere between these two substances. In other words: subjective effects have a more central than peripheral character,  which results in a more pleasant stimulation effect. In view of its close relation to amphetamine it gives the same metabolites and in urine tests it will show amphetamine intake. On these grounds, in the year 2010, DMAA was qualified by WADA as a doping substance and was excluded from competitive sport usage. Since 2012, the supplements containing geranamine have started to be withdrawn from the USA and European market. Today, it may  be purchased on the black market or in niche shops, which were not reported to the Chief Sanitary Inspectorate.

It is worth to mention a famous affair with such supplements as Mesomorph or OxyElite Pro, which reportedly contained amphetamine. However, the research confirming that thesis are hardly to be found, yet, as mentioned above, DMAA results in a positive urine test detecting amphetamine. Therefore, such a urban legend could be conceived.

How does DMAA work?

DMA activity is strictly related to its construction. Methylhexanamine is an aliphatic amine with 7 carbon atoms and a plain chain structure. At the position of alpha carbon there is a methyl group connected, which enables the compound to work as catecholamine reuptake inhibitors, especially norepinephrine. Additionally, this group accelerates the central nervous system penetration through this compound. Inhibition of norepinephrine reuptake consists in disturbing the activity of this substance transporter, as a result of which norepinephrine extracellular accumulation is increased.  Medicines from this category are used to treat e.g. narcolepsy. The addictive potential of such agents is scant, because of the lack of the influence on dopamine and by the same token – reward system. A connected activity of norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake can be found in such medicines as e.g. Medikinet with methylphenidate, as an active ingredient.

Summing up, by using DMAA we simply obtain the effects of increased norepinephrine amount in our body. There will be the thermogenesis increase (by the influence on brown adipose tissue), the increase of blood pressure (by narrowing blood vessels), however, what is worth noting is the lack of the influence on heart rate increase [3]. It will also increase lipolysis, which was proven in the study with the use of DMAA [4].

The influence on sport performance is questionable, in the light of the research. However, there is only one study carried out at this angle [4]. No improvement in the 10km running time was proven, however, intensified lipolysis was proven and slightly enhanced mood towards the placebo group (30g of carbo and caffeine).

It seems, however, that in case of strength training, every stimulation form may allow to do a more effective training. I would then leave the evaluation as subjective. The stimulation will lower fatigue and help complete the training at the gym in the designated time and with a better attitude, which is not meaningless.

Safety and dosing

We start with the dose of 20-30mg and there is no point in exceeding 60-80mg. There was no research related to dosages, however, these are the amounts usually offered  in supplements. Dosages above 50mg for some users may turn out to be “unpleasant”. If a higher dose is needed to achieve an optimal stimulation, one should take care of the state of his or her adrenals and when a need arises, apply an adaptogenes therapy in  order to decrease tolerance and repair these glands.

Medicine knows a few cases of cerebral hemorrhages related to using DMAA as a pill at the party [5]. In the article, however, the pill were shown as 300mg DMAA. Additionally, the described subject took 150mg of caffeine. Such a dose may be really unreasonable. There are no premises to claim that Methylhexanamine is dangerous for healthy people and with balanced usage. There are no long-term studies, but 10 weeks of using supplements containing DMAA did not show any visible changes or alarming blood results [6].

Usage in studying

DMAA may turn out to be a great tool supporting studying. However, the fact of the lack of dopamine stimulation makes us use it only as a part of a bigger stack to make the results really strong. My proposal is:

  • DMAA 30mg
  • Coluracetam 10mg
  • Choline 500mg
  • L-Tyrosine 2000mg
  • p-5-p 50mg
  • Acetyl L-carnitine 1500mg
  • alternatively a small caffeine dose, max 100mg

Where you find supplements with dmaa?

[1] A. Lisi,* N. Hasick, R. Kazlauskas and C. Goebel; Studies of methylhexaneamine in supplements and geranium oil; december 2011

[2] Z. Ping, Q. Jun, L. Qing. A Study on the Chemical Constituents of Geranium Oil. Journal of Guizhou Institute of Technology 1996, 25, 82.

[3] Richard J. Bloomer, PhD1 ,Innocence C. Harvey, BS1, Tyler M. Farney, MS1, Zach W. Bell, BS1, Robert E. Canale, MS1; Effects of 1,3-Dimethylamylamine and Caffeine Alone or in Combination on Heart Rate and Blood Pressure in Healthy Men and Women; The Physician and Sportsmedicine, Volume 39, Issue 3, September 2011, ISSN – 0091-3847

[4] Richard J. Bloomer, Cameron G. McCarthy, Tyler M. Farney, and Innocence C. Harvey; Effect of Caffeine and 1,3-Dimethylamylamine on Exercise Performance and Blood Markers of Lipolysis and Oxidative Stress in Trained Men and Women; JOURNAL OF CAFFEINE RESEARCH; Volume 1, Number 3, 2011

[5] Paul Gee, Suzanne Jackson, Josie Easton; Another bitter pill: a case of toxicity from DMAA party pills; THE NEW ZEALAND MEDICAL JOURNAL 17 December 2010, Vol 123 No 1327; ISSN 1175 8716

[6] Paul N. Whitehead, Brian K. Schilling, Tyler M. Farney and Richard J. Bloomer; Impact of a Dietary Supplement Containing 1,3-Dimethylamylamine on Blood Pressure and Bloodborne Markers of Health: a 10-Week Intervention Study; Nutrition and Metabolic Insights 2012:5 33–39

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