Is Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) Good Enough to Cause Weight-Loss?

Present in sea foods and produced naturally in the human brain, dimethylaminoethanol possesses numerous benefits for human health. Owing to its ability to improve energy levels and cause loss of body weight, dimethylaminoethanol-containing supplements have recently gained popularity. However, notwithstanding the popularity, a cause for concern is the serious dearth of scientific literature concerning the effectiveness and safety of dimethylaminoethanol.

Memory boosterHow many of the alleged benefits of dimethylaminoethanol are for real and how much of the hype is pure marketing gimmick from supplement companies, is something that needs to be investigated. Let us have a better look!

Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE, Deanol) is a an endogenous chemical produced in the human brain. By a combination of increasing acetylcholine (Ach) secretion and suppressing its destruction, DMAE increases levels of Ach in the brain. Researchers believe that this DMAE-induced enhanced Ach levels result in improved memory, learning and attention. Additionally, it has been shown to:

  • improve exercise and sports performance,
  • enhance energy levels, and
  • induce reduction of body weight

Rich, natural sources of DMAE are fishes like Anchovies, Salmon, Sardines, Squid.

Industrial applications of DMAE includes its use as a flocculent agent in water treatment plants, for surface coating and as a corrosion-inhibiting agent (NYU Langone Medical Center, 2013).

Dosages and Safety Profile of DMAE

The minimum effective doses of DMAE for improving exercise performance or causing weight loss have not been defined; you will have to go with whatever doses the manufacturers recommend on the tub!

Although, most clinical trials have reported the safety of DMAE (NYU Langone Medical Center, 2013), mild adverse effects may yet occur; these are (Sergio, 1988; Haug & Holzgraefe, 1991; Fisman, Mersky, & Helmes, 1981):

  • headache,
  • insomnia,
  • drowsiness,
  • confusion,
  • elevated blood pressure, and
  • increased muscle tension

Caution should be observed by those with a history of convulsive disorders. Also, since therapeutic as well as safety index for DMAE has not been defined (NYU Langone Medical Center, 2013), it is contraindicated in children, during pregnancy or lactation and in those with hepatic (liver) or renal (kidney) disease (NYU Langone Medical Center, 2013; CalorieLab, 2013).

Scientific Evidence for the Effectiveness of DMAE

Controversy surrounds the ability of DMAE to increase Ach levels and therefore its alleged benefits. Some researchers suggest that DMAE may in fact not any influence on Ach levels in brain (Zahniser, Chou, & Hanin, 1977).

Therapeutic applications of DMAE are centred around its ability to cause improved attention and memory. Some conditions in which DMAE treatment may be of benefit are:

  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Huntington’s Chorea
  • Tardive Dyskinesia

Although DMAE finds use in these conditions, the evidence in support is contradictory; with some studies reporting positive association while others suggesting that DMAE may be only as effective as placebo (Zahniser et al., 1977; Knobel, 1974; Fisman et al., 1981; Ferris, Sathananthan, Gershon, & Clark, 1977; Alphs & Davis, 1982; Caraceni, Girotti, Celano, Parati, & Balboni, 1978; Tarsy & Bralower, 1977; Re’, 1974).

Similarly, since doubt has been cast over DMAE’s ability to enhance Ach levels in brain, its ability to increase energy levels and cause reduction in body weight have also come under the scanner.

Also, although touted to cause ‘enhance performance, use of DMAE in competitive athletes is also ridden with risk. DMAE belongs to the nootropic class of drugs – drugs that enhance cognitive functions. These allegedly act by improving cerebral blood circulation and hence may be of benefit in improving exercise performance (Docherty, 2008).

Although DMAE itself isn’t on the ‘banned list’, Meclofenoxate (centrophenoxine) – a combination of DMAE and paracholorphenoxyacetate (Sweetman, 2007) – has been banned for in-competition use by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Docherty, 2008) on account of its specific stimulant and performance enhancing properties (WADA, 2013).

Meclofenoxate apparently increases plasma choline (Wood & Peloquin, 1982) and Ach levels (Georgiev, Petkov, & Kirilov, 1979). Additionally, it also stimulates acetylcholinesterase enzyme (Sharma & Singh, 1995); destruction of Ach is suppressed thereby increasing the time duration of Ach action.

Verdict On Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE)

Considering that controversy exists regarding the ability of DMAE to cause elevation in Ach levels and indeed its weight-reducing abilities, it cannot be recommended for use as a weight-loss supplement. Additionally, DMAE (as Meclofenoxate) finds itself on the ‘banned list’ of substances. Hence, although quite safe, there seems to be very little justification (due to lack of effectiveness) for its use.

Going by current evidence, we recommends against the use of dimethylaminoethanol as a weight-reducing agent.

Useful References

  • Alphs, L. & Davis, J. M. (1982). Noncatecholaminergic treatments of tardive dyskinesia. J Clin Psychopharmacol., 2, 380-385. Online Resource
  • CalorieLab. (2013). “Smart” Supplements: DMAE Benefits, Side Effects and Considerations. Online Source
  • Caraceni, T. A., Girotti, F., Celano, I., Parati, E., & Balboni, L. (1978). 2-dimethylaminoethanol (Deanol) in Huntington’s chorea. J Neurol.Neurosurg.Psychiatry, 41, 1114-1118. Online Resource
  • Docherty, J. R. (2008). Pharmacology of stimulants prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Br.J Pharmacol., 154, 606-622. Online Resource
  • Ferris, S. H., Sathananthan, G., Gershon, S., & Clark, C. (1977). Senile dementia: treatment with deanol. J Am Geriatr.Soc, 25, 241-244. Online Resource
  • Fisman, M., Mersky, H., & Helmes, E. (1981). Double-blind trial of 2-dimethylaminoethanol in Alzheimer’s disease. Am J Psychiatry, 138, 970-972. Online Resource
  • Georgiev, V. P., Petkov, V., & Kirilov, B. (1979). Participation of adrenergic mechanisms in brain acetylcholine release produced by centrophenoxine. Acta Physiol Pharmacol.Bulg., 5, 21-26. Online Resouce
  • Haug, B. A. & Holzgraefe, M. (1991). Orofacial and respiratory tardive dyskinesia: potential side effects of 2-dimethylaminoethanol (deanol)? Eur Neurol., 31, 423-425. Online Resource
  • Knobel, M. (1974). Approach to a combined pharmacologic therapy of childhood hyperkinesis. Behav.Neuropsychiatry, 6, 87-90. Online Resource
  • NYU Langone Medical Center. (2013). DMAE. Online Source
  • Re’, O. (1974). 2-Dimethylaminoethanol (deanol): a brief review of its clinical efficacy and postulated mechanism of action. Curr.Ther Res.Clin Exp., 16, 1238-1242. Online Resource
  • Sergio, W. (1988). Use of DMAE (2-dimethylaminoethanol) in the induction of lucid dreams. Med Hypotheses, 26, 255-257. Online Resource
  • Sharma, D. & Singh, R. (1995). Centrophenoxine activates acetylcholinesterase activity in hippocampus of aged rats. Indian J Exp.Biol., 33, 365-368. Online Resource
  • Sweetman, S. C. (2007). The Complete Drug Reference (Martindale). London: The Pharmaceutical Press.
  • Tarsy, D. & Bralower, M. (1977). Deanol acetamidobenzoate treatment in choreiform movement disorders. Arch.Neurol., 34, 756-758. Online Resource
  • WADA. (2013). Prohibited List.
  • Wood, P. L. & Peloquin, A. (1982). Increases in choline levels in rat brain elicited by meclofenoxate. Neuropharmacology, 21, 349-354. Online Resources
  • Zahniser, N. R., Chou, D., & Hanin, I. (1977). Is 2-dimethylaminoethanol (deanol) indeed a precursor of brain acetylcholine? A gas chromatographic evaluation. J Pharmacol.Exp.Ther, 200, 545-559. Online Resources

Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.

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