DMAA: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

DMAA (1, 3, Dimethylamylamine)


  • DMAA
  • 1,3-Dimethylamylamine
  • Methylhexanamine 
  • 2-Amino-4-methylhexane
  • 4-Methyl-2-hexanamine
  • 2-Hexanamine
  • Geranium Extract
  • Geranium Stem

History of DMAA

In the 1950s, DMAA originally started off as a very effective nasal spray called Forthane but severe side effects like headaches, tremors, and increased blood pressure caused it to be withdrawn from the market. Sharing similar structural properties as amphetamines, it constricted blood vessels while stimulating the central nervous system. This sparked the interest of using this ingredient for dietary supplementation purposes with weight loss, muscle building, and performance enhancement properties.


For the most part 1,3-dimethylamylamine is synthetically created. It can be found in geranium extract but the amount is so minuscule that it is irrelevant. For any dietary supplementation of DMAA to be effective the dosage should be 20mg-75mg and in geranium extract only .6ng/g-1.4ng/g of DMAA can be extracted. This makes it apparent that the DMAA found in dietary supplements on the market are synthetically produced. The fact that such a small amount can be derived from geranium allowed it to gain clearance for use in dietary supplementation under the The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994.

“(ff) The term “dietary supplement” –

  • “(1) means a product (other than tobacco) intended to supplement the diet that bears or contains one or more of the following dietary ingredients:
    • “(A) a vitamin;
    • “(B) a mineral;
    • “(C) an herb or other botanical;
    • “(D) an amino acid;
    • “(E) a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake; or
    • “(F) a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combination of any ingredient described in clause (A), (B), (C), (D), or (E);

Side effects arose from cardiovascular problems, including heart attack, shortness of breath, and tightening of the chest. These issues correlate to high blood pressure caused by the constriction of blood vessels and arteries.

DMAA Military Deaths

On June 1, 2011, 22-year-old Army private Michael Lee Sparling died while running in formation for 10 minutes after supposedly taking the recommended dosage of Jack3d. In the fall of 2011, a 32-year-old soldier collapsed during a fitness test and died after a month in the hospital. Toxicity reports showed that he had also taken Jack3d before exercise. As the main ingredient in Jack3d, DMAA was blamed for the deaths. In response the Defense Department pulled all products containing DMAA from military base stores.

A lawsuit was filed against USPlabs claiming they sold a defective product and failed to warn about its risks. USPlabs argued that they have never encountered any death reports from those who have followed the recommended dosage. They stated there is no evidence proving DMAA was the culprit. “Suppose I drank a soda pop and, 15 minutes later, died of a heart attack. Would you say that the caffeine in the soda pop caused my heart attack?”

FDA vs USPlabs

In April 2012 the Food and Drug Administration started to go after companies that had products containing DMAA. They sent out warning letters to 10 manufacturers. Most companies stopped or planned to stop production of these products except for USPlabs. USPlabs, famous for their pre workout Jack3d and weight loss supplement Oxy Elite Pro, responded to the FDA with published studies disproving FDA findings.

USPlabs claimed that if people used DMAA products as recommended there should be no serious health problems. They also fought that DMAA is in fact a dietary ingredient. USPlabs stated that DMAA is  “a dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing total dietary intake.” They were talking about how consumption of geranium is as a natural source of DMAA.

The FDA responded that “the possibility that geraniums may have been consumed as a food or drink by humans does not demonstrate that DMAA is a dietary substance because, as explained above, the totality of the scientific evidence does not demonstrate the presence of DMAA as a constituent of geraniums.”

This statement was backed by the fact that DMAA was not found in all geranium and the plants that were able to derive DMAA contained an irrelevant amount.



After dietary products containing DMAA were pulled off the shelves, pre workout companies frantically looked for effective alternatives. Many companies upped caffeine levels and added other ingredients like synephrine or increased beta-alanine. The problem is DMAA was very effective in creating a feeling of adrenaline. Companies had there hands full trying to fill the void of this powerful ingredient.

Some Supplements That Contained DMAA:

Some companies succeeded in substituting DMAA and others flopped. Driven Sports Craze was very successful in stacking Dendrobex and Citramine. They were able to use these ingredients to make a safer more effective solution to DMAA.

USPlabs Jack3d seems to suffer from changing there original formula to Jack3d micro. Their old formula with DMAA had more stimulants and was more effective than the new micro blend. The new formula added Citrulline, focusing on Nitric Oxide production through Arginine.

DMAA Replacments:

  • Citrus Aurantium “Bitter Orange” (Synephrine)
  • Dendrobium Extract (Phenylethylamine(PEA))
  • Citrus Reticulata Extract (N-Methyltyramine)

Dietary Supplement Safety Procedure

Dietary supplements are regulated differently than other food sources.

    • The FDA verifies that the product label is not misleading and protects against any unsafe supplements.
    • Manufacturers are required to submit any serious event reports in the U.S. about the supplement to the FDA.
  • FDA PROBLEM SOLVING PROCEDURE (post market only):
    • FDA must follow lengthy scientific and legal steps to ban an ingredient.
    • During intermission of this long process, the FDA can take a more immediate approach by sending out letters warning companies to discontinue production of unsafe ingredients or products.
    • Investigators can be sent to companies to ensure compliance.
    • Seizure of unsafe products can be done to avoid illegal distribution.

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