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DMAA in Workout Supplements and Party Pills Linked to Heart Attacks and Death


There's a long list of dietary supplements seeking attention in the fitness industry, from energy enhancers to fat burners to pre-workout boosters. Some, however, contain more than vitamins, minerals, proteins, and herbs. A synthetically produced stimulant drug called "DMAA" has found its way into body building supplements like USP Labs Jack3d and Scivation Quake 10.0, as well as into so-called "party pills," purported to temporarily increase mental and physical function.

Legal in the U.S. but prohibited in professional sports, supplements containing the drug have been used by athletes during training and before competitions where drug tests aren't administered. Recreational users take it to increase performance and focus, and often just for the euphoric sensation that accompanies ingestion. Recent reports, however, have linked DMAA to serious and sometimes severe side effects including heart attacks, stroke, cerebral hemorrhage, central nervous system disorders, psychiatric disorders, massive headaches, and death. Those suffering injuries like these may be eligible to file a DMAA lawsuit.

What is DMAA?

DMAA (methylhexanamine) was originally trademarked in the 1940s by Eli Lilly and Company for use as a nasal decongestant, but there is no known reference to its use in the medical literature. After the trademark expired, in 2006, a chemist named Patric Arnold reintroduced it as a dietary supplement under the trademarked name "Geranamine," which led to its more widespread use in supplements focusing on fat loss and workout energy. Supplements that contain DMAA include Code Red, Hemo Rage Black, Hydroxystim, Jack 3D, Napalm, and Nitric Blast.

How Does it Work?

DMAA works by constricting blood vessels, resulting in an increase in blood pressure, which can make the user feel a short-term energy burst and increased concentration and confidence. Unfortunately, some users may also experience the following symptoms:

  • Tightening of the chest; shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate that could lead to a heart attack
  • Trembling; seizures
  • Anxiety, nervousness, depression, irritability
  • Heart failure and sudden cardiac death
  • Dehydration, cold sweats, light-headedness, loss of consciousness
  • Stroke, lethal exhaustion

Reports of DMAA-Related Deaths

In 2011, two soldiers were reported to have taken DMAA-containing fitness supplements prior to military exercises, with one 22-year-old Army soldier collapsing during a training run and another 32-year-old soldier collapsing after taking a physical fitness test. The U.S. Department of Defense removed supplements with DMAA from stores on bases pending further safety reviews.

In New Zealand, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced DMAA would be withdrawn from the market by April 9, 2012. Dunne noted the drug had been linked to increased blood pressure, headaches, and vomiting.

The 1944 patent on DMAA claimed it was derived from the oil of the geranium plant, based on a single Chinese report that scientists have been unable to duplicate. Experts now agree that all DMAA on the market is synthetic. The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) banned its members from labeling DMAA as geranium oil, extract, stem, leaf, or any other part of the plant.

FDA Warns DMAA Manufacturers

On April 17, 2012, the FDA sent warning letters to 10 manufacturers of DMAA supplements, stating that DMAA is not a dietary ingredient and not eligible to be used in dietary supplements, and requesting additional information showing that the drug is safe. Experts wonder why the FDA is dragging their feet on taking stronger action, since DMAA is stronger than ephedra, another stimulant drug, which was banned after reports showed it was linked to deadly cardiovascular events.

With the rise in popularity of DMAA use in party pills, as well as the continued use in workout supplements, lawyers around the country are now examining potential DMAA lawsuits. A class action lawsuit has already been filed against UPSLabs and BPI Sports. Plaintiffs suffering injuries from these products seek to hold the manufacturers liable for failing to warn the public of the risks.


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  1. David says:
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    Very informative and well thought of post, I’ve written a bit about supplements and such on my website too, I’m a trained gym instructor so I’d appreciate if you’d read my article and tell me your opinion.
    I love this website, I think I’ve read about 12 posts so far, very well thought of :)

  2. t-swede says:
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    big brother strikes again , how many people die of eating to much bacon , or smoking and drinking but theres no ban on these products .

  3. Miss says:
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    I had to earn the hard way with dmaa supplements. I took jack3d for 2 years and ended up with a bunch of liver problems,which were diagnosed from blood tests, ultrasounds and a biopsy. I’m super careful now :(

  4. Miss says:
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    I had to earn the hard way with dmaa supplements. I took jack3d for 2 years and ended up with a bunch of liver problems,which were diagnosed from blood tests, ultrasounds and a biopsy. I’m super careful now :(