Dimethylaminoethenol (DMAE) is a metabolite, a product produced by the body’s metabolic process of procaine. It is a central nervous system stimulant that has a mild impact. It’s effect is similar to an amphetamine, but it is not such a drug. The term DMAE is actually an abbreviation for dimethylaminoethanol, a naturally occurring chemical produced by the human brain. It is a choline molecule that has one methyl group missing from the nitrogen, and it may be for this reason that it can cross the blood-brain barrier more easily than choline. While choline is known to be the precursor of acetylcholine, a recognized neurotransmitter, DMAE may prove to offer a more direct approach to this function by moving into the brain, being acted on by an enzyme (methylation), and thereby undergoing conversion into choline directly where it is needed.
Although free-radicals are a natural result of the human body’s activity, the human equilibrium may be upset because of modern diet and environmental conditions that add further stressors to the system. These conditions cause a need for additional antioxidants in order for the body to cope with industrialized life. Antioxidants seem to reinforce one another, and for this reason it seems prudent to combine the use of several rather than to rely on only one type.
Dimethylaminoethanol, also known as DMAE or dimethylethanolamine, is an organic compound. This compound also goes by the names of N,N-dimethyl-2-aminoethanol, beta-dimethylaminoethyl alcohol, beta-hydroxyethyldimethylamine and Deanol. It is a liquid with a color that ranges from clear to pale yellow.
DMAE is known chemically as dimethyl-amino-ethanol. DMAE has been known in Europe by the product name Deanol for more than three decades. DMAE has two methyl groups and is chemically similar to choline. DMAE has been popular for many years in those interested in improving mental alertness and clarity of thinking.
Dimethylaminoethanol is used as a curing agent for polyurethanes and epoxy resins. It is also used in mass quantities for water treatment, and to some extent in the coatings industry. It is used in the synthesis of dyestuffs, textile auxiliaries, pharmaceuticals, emulsifiers, and corrosion inhibitors. It is also an additive to paint removers, boiler water and amino resins.
Dimethylaminoethanol is related to choline and is a biochemical precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and found naturally in fish like sardines and anchovies. It is reported to have nootropic effects, although research on this chemical has found both positive and negative potential results.
It is believed that dimethylaminoethanol is methylated to produce choline in the brain. It is known that dimethylaminoethanol is processed by the liver into choline; however, the choline molecule is charged and cannot pass the blood-brain barrier.
Short term studies have shown an increase in vigilance and alertness, with a positive influence on mood. Long term studies are equivocal. Some showed dimethylaminoethanol to increase the lifespan of animals in which it was tested, while others indicate a possible reduction in the average life span of quail. With the uncertainty of whether this could be extrapolated to humans, dimethylaminoethanol supplementation is not generally recommended. It is possible that dose is a major determining factor in the overall effects of dimethylaminoethanol – a high dose could produce effects opposite to those sought and contribute to life-shortening.
DMAE Research for Alzheimer’s, memory loss, age related mental decline
Studies with DMAE go back to the 1950s. One double blind, placebo-controlled trial performed in twenty-seven patients with severe Alzheimer’s disease did not show significant benefits (Fisman 1981). Another study on twenty-one patients with memory deficits was also discouraging since no improvement was found in memory (Caffarra 1980). However, DMAE was found helpful in patients with age related mental decline. DMAE was given for four weeks to fourteen older patients (Ferris 1977). Ten patients improved and four were unchanged. The patients on DMAE had reduced depression, less anxiety, and increased motivation, but they had no improvement in memory. The researchers say, “the results thus suggest that although DMAE may not improve memory, it may produce positive behavioral changes in some senile patients.” Dementia is a term that is now substituted for senility and is sometimes used to denote a severe case of age related cognitive decline.
DMAE has been touted as an anti-aging nutrient but there have not been any human studies evaluating the claim that DMAE slows aging.
DMAE Positive effects - Benefit of DMAE – DMAE Enhances Mood and Alertness
Most people notice being more alert and focused within a couple of hours after taking DMAE. The DMAE benefit of alertness and focus can last most of the day. A few report a higher sense of wellbeing. DMAE is recommended to be taken in the early part of the day. I also like the mind boosting effect of Acetyl-l-carnitine, but my favorite is a combination of several nutrients and herbs, including DMAE bitartrate, found in Mind Power Rx.
There are dozens of herbs and nutrients available in health food stores that influence mental function. One that has been popular for many years is DMAE, which stands for dimethyl-amino-ethanol. A recent German study evaluated the brain’s electrical reaction during presentation of videoclips of 7 minute duration in 80 subjects with borderline emotional disturbance. The researchers recorded the different emotional states by having the subjects watch these film excerpts. Half of the subjects were then started on a daily dose of DMAE and the testing was repeated after 6 and 12 weeks. The testing included showing the videoclips, filling out mood questionnaires, and also evaluating the brain’s electrical reaction through EEGs (electrodes placed on the scalp that measure brain activity) . The results showed that those who took the DMAE daily had a decrease in theta and alpha1 brain electrical activity indicating that they were more alert. Furthermore, the questionnaires revealed that those on DMAE had a better mood. The researchers conclude, “DMAE can be interpreted to induce a psychophysiological state of better feeling of wellbeing on both levels of analysis mood and electrical pattern of brain activity in subjects suffering from borderline emotional disturbance.”
Dr Sahelian says: Most people notice being more alert and focused within a couple of hours after taking DMAE. DMAE is available in dosages ranging from 100 to 400 mg. It is best to start with a low dose, such as 50 to 150 mg of actual DMAE since high doses can cause anxiety, restlessness, and muscle tenseness in the neck and shoulders. DMAE taken late in the day may cause insomnia.
Efficacy of dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) containing vitamin-mineral drug combination on EEG patterns in the presence of different emotional states. Dimpfel W. Forschung und Entwicklung -, Kurt-Schumacher-Str. 9, D-35440 Linden, Germany. Eur J Med Res. 2003 May 30;8(5):183-91.
The psychophysiological model of provoking different emotional states by watching film excerpts with various emotional contents was used to characterize drug action in 80 subjects (male /f emale = 50%) with threshold emotional disturbance within a randomized, group-parallel, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Analyzing the brain’s electrical reaction during presentation of 5 videoclips of 7 min duration followed by 3 minutes pause revealed a content specific representation of topographical frequency changes. This procedure was repeated after 6 and 12 weeks of daily intake of a vitamin-mineral drug combination containing dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) or placebo. Subjects taking DMAE supplement for 3 months developed significant less theta and alpha1 power in sensomotoric areas of the cortex. Since decreases in theta and alpha1 electrical power have been associated with increased vigilance and attention, subjects taking DMAE combination obviously were more active and felt better. Therefore the vitamin-mineral combination containing DMAE can be interpreted to induce a psychophysiological state of better feeling of wellbeing on both levels of analysis mood and electrical pattern of brain activity in subjects suffering from borderline emotional disturbance.
DMAE Side effects
DMAE is available in varying dosages. It is best to start with a low dose, such as 50 to 150 mg of actual DMAE to avoid DMAE side effects. High doses can cause anxiety, restlessness, and muscle tenseness or stiffness in the neck, jaw, and shoulders. DMAE taken late in the day may cause insomnia. Other DMAE side effects on high dosages include irritability, headache, and overstimulation.
DMAE is usually sold by the name of DMAE bitartrate. A 350 mg pill of DMAE bitartrate yields 130 mg of actual DMAE. It is also available as DMAE liquid. One product contains 35 mg of DMAE per drop. Most users notice an effect from 50 to 150 mg of actual DMAE or 150 to 350 mg of DMAE bitartrate.
DMAE can be helpful in the elderly who have cognitive decline. This nutrient can also be taken by an adult of any age who needs to be more focused and alert.
DMAE and Skin
A recent study shows DMAE cream is able to increase firmness of skin. Perhaps DMAE cream has anti-wrinkle potential. See below for the abstract.
The role of dimethylaminoethanol in cosmetic dermatology.
Am J Clin Dermatol. 2005;6(1):39-47. Grossman R.
Johnson and Johnson Consumer Products Worldwide, Skillman, NJ 08558
Skincare formulations for the improvement of aging skin are increasingly important consumer products. Here, we review available data on one such agent – 2-dimethylaminoethanol ( DMAE ) or deanol – that has recently been evaluated in a placebo-controlled trial. DMAE is an analog of the B vitamin choline and is a precursor of acetylcholine. Although the role of acetylcholine as a neurotransmitter is well known, growing evidence points to acetylcholine as a ubiquitous cytokine-like molecule that regulates basic cellular processes such as proliferation, differentiation, locomotion, and secretion in a paracrine and autocrine fashion. Indeed, this modulatory role may contribute to the cutaneous activity of DMAE. In a randomized clinical study, 3% DMAE facial gel applied daily for 16 weeks has been shown to be safe and efficacious in the mitigation of forehead lines and periorbital fine wrinkles, and in improving lip shape and fullness and the overall appearance of aging skin. Conclusions: Thus, the benefits of DMAE in dermatology include a potential anti-inflammatory effect and a documented increase in skin firmness with possible improvement in underlying facial muscle tone. Studies are needed to evaluate the relative efficacy of DMAE compared with other skin-care regimens (e.g., topical antioxidant creams, alpha-hydroxy acids).
Split face study on the cutaneous tensile effect of 2-dimethylaminoethanol (dmae) gel.
Skin Res Technol 2002 Aug;8(3):164-7
Beyond subjective assessments, the effect of skin tensors is difficult to assess. The present 2-phase randomized double-blind split face study was designed to compare the effect of a gel containing 3% 2-dimethylaminoethanol (deanol, DMAE) with the same formulation without DMAE. METHODS: In a first pilot study, sensorial assessments and measures of the skin distension under suction were performed in eight volunteers. In a second study conducted in 30 volunteers, shear wave propagation was measured. RESULTS: Large interindividual variations precluded any significant finding in the first study. The DMAE formulation showed, however, a significant effect characterized by increased shear wave velocity in the direction where the mechanical anisotropy of skin showed looseness. The DMAE formulation under investigation increased skin firmness.