DMAE is a popular nootropic that promises to improve several aspects of cognitive function and overall brain health.
This natural compound has garnered scientific interest given its similarity to choline and phosphatidylcholine, nutrients involved in acetylcholine synthesis in the body.
DMAE has been associated with benefits that improve brain function and learning while preventing cognitive decline and memory loss. However, the question remains whether these health benefits can be achieved or if it falls short of these claims.
This DMAE review will attempt to answer these questions.
- What is DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol)?
- How Does DMAE Work In The Brain?
- What Are The Benefits of DMAE?
- How To Take DMAE
- What Are The Side Effects of DMAE?
What is DMAE (Dimethylaminoethanol)?
DMAE is a natural compound produced in the brain that may support cognitive function related to memory and concentration. It is similar to choline in structure and primarily operates as a precursor to acetylcholine in the brain.
While extensive research and clinical efficacy on this topic are lacking, there is some evidence that it may provide unique health benefits to cognition impaired by hyper attention and neurodegeneration.
This drug was once sold as a prescription drug for children who demonstrated learning and behavioral problems, including shortened attention span. It was sold under the name Deanol but was later withdrawn from the market, and it is no longer available as a prescription drug.
Seafood such as sardines and anchovies are excellent sources of DMAE. On the other hand, DMAE bitartrate or dimethylaminoethanol bitartrate is the main form of DMAE supplements available in the market.
How Does DMAE Work In The Brain?
DMAE enhances choline in the brain. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for the production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that assists memory by improving communication between nerve cells and brain cells.
DMAE is considered a potential treatment for senile dementia and other conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Elevated acetylcholine levels have mild stimulant effects, so it is potentially helpful in the treatment of ADHD.
What Are The Benefits of DMAE?
The health benefits of DMAE include promising results for many neurocognitive issues and minimal brain dysfunction.
This is given its probable ability to reduce chemical levels that impair cognitive function with age.
Improves Memory and Cognition
Taking DMAE may have benefits for neuroprotection that could help improve overall cognitive function, nervous system performance, longevity, and anti-aging.
Animal studies indicate that using DMAE can enhance choline metabolism, which helps raise brain acetylcholine levels.
In addition, because DMAE crosses the blood-brain barrier more efficiently than choline, it is able o reach the brain and increase its choline levels with greater effectiveness.
DMAE users report experiencing improved short-term memory, focus, mental clarity, and sleep patterns. For example, young, healthy males were administered DMAE for 2 – 3 weeks in one study.
As a result, participants demonstrated an improvement not only in concentration but also in sleep patterns and improved muscle tone.
According to some research, DMAE may act as a free radical scavenger where it goes out and kills free radicals that would typically be responsible for mutating cells (1).
Treats Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
There is some evidence that adding DMAE may help treat behavior concerns and ADHD-like symptoms.
An early study involving children with learning and hyperactivity issues was administered either deanol, Ritalin, or a placebo for three months.
Of the three, Deanol appeared to be as effective as Ritalin in reducing symptoms compared to the placebo.
It also seems to be a better and more natural alternative to Ritalin, a common prescription drug for the treatment of ADHD.
Supports Better Mood and Sleep
Some evidence found that DMAE supplementation may enhance mood and wellbeing.
People who use the substance report positive health effects regarding mood, although these effects have not been studied comprehensively.
Some studies show that DMAE may lower alpha and theta brain waves. A reduction in such brain wave frequency is linked to improved vigilance and increased attention.
The research found that participants taking DMAE were more active and experienced improved mood alterations. Participants also scored higher on wellbeing self-reports, and their EEG scans showed enhanced brain activity.
Another double-blind, placebo-controlled trial recruited 80 participants and analyzed their brain’s electrical reaction.
Findings showed that after taking DMAE and a vitamin-mineral drug combination for 3 months, participants developed significantly less alpha and theta brain waves.
The same subjects also felt more active and better. As such, researchers concluded that DMAE might potentially induce a state of better feeling and wellbeing (2).
DMAE may also play a part in the onset of the dreaming state, remarkably lucid dreams. Some people also use DMAE for its mild stimulant effects and report feeling less tired during the day and experiencing less difficulty falling asleep at night.
These effects are different from the stimulant effects of caffeine and do not trigger a quick boost of energy followed by typical effects of a crash, including irritability or anxiety.
Instead, DMAE users report continued mild stimulation without any severe withdrawal symptoms.
Helps With Treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease
The results from clinical trials depicting the ability of DMAE to treat cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease are somewhat mixed.
The compound is believed to work primarily by speeding the production of acetylcholine, whose efficacy is well-documented for improving mental clarity, reducing brain fog, and preventing memory loss, particularly in older people.
One study involved administering DMAE on 14 outpatients for four weeks with positive results (3).
In addition, it is the active component in centrophenoxine, another supplement used for its potential memory-boosting abilities.
Also, centrophenoxine has similar properties to acetylcholine. However, clinical evidence remains weak, and many studies have shown a lack of cognitive benefits.
Reduces Effects of Skin Aging
Skin health is another area where supplementing with DMAE seems to show positive results. It is often used in cosmetic dermatology and found in skincare products that promise anti-aging benefits and improve skin appearance.
Some scientific evidence indicates that DMAE can increase skin firmness and give the skin a more youthful appearance.
It is also accredited for boosting phosphatidylcholine, which is a fatty lipid stemming from choline. In addition, it is believed to exert antioxidant effects that shield skin cells from free radical damage.
These same effects may further reflect similar claims that DMAE improves the skin cells’ ability to retain water. But, again, this is part of a process that assists cells in healing and preventing sagging skin, wrinkles, age spots, and promoting skin firmness.
In addition, DMAE may reduce lipofuscin. This is a brownish-colored pigment that can cause liver spots. Clinical studies observing the skin firming benefits of deanol therapy gave a 3% DMAE facial gel to test subjects for 16 weeks.
Daily application of the DMAE gel appeared to be safe and effective on different skin types. It seemed to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, improve lip shape and fullness, and the overall appearance of aging skin.
The effects did not regress on the DMAE treated skin even after stopping treatment for two weeks.
Overall, study participants did not experience any skin irritation, peeling, itching, burning, or dryness, and the product was well tolerated (4).
Enhances Athletic Performance
Supplementing with DMAE may boost athletic performance, according to some limited research. In addition, using DMAE may aid physical performance by improving muscle reflex actions and reducing muscle tension.
Given its ability to promote acetylcholine synthesis, DMAE is considered important for muscle coordination for improved cognitive function and brain health.
This makes it equally popular with athletes looking to maintain concentration in long-duration exercises and others wishing to support their cognitive health and abilities.
Endurance-wise, DMAE may improve the complexion and increase maximal oxygen uptake during exercise. In addition, this property helps improve strength training performance and muscle endurance.
Athletes will also experience a noticeable boost in blood flow to the brain. Those who supplement with this nootropic found that DMAE helps them feel focused during workouts.
Its stimulant effect yields improved mental tolerance and stamina, resulting in increased athletic performance (5).
How To Take DMAE
DMAE can be consumed orally or applied topically, and it is being sold as a dietary supplement in capsules and powdered forms.
To apply on the skin, DMAE is available as a serum or a gel. It is now a common ingredient in many cosmetics and skincare products and often goes by other names when used in these products.
The dosing for these nutritional supplements varies by brand, so it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s directions and purchase DMAE only from trusted sources.
Even though there is no recommended dosage for DMAE consumption, clinical trials show DMAE’s effectiveness to be most potent, taken multiple times a day instead of all at once.
DMAE dosage typically ranges between 250 mg 1-3 times daily for optimal health benefits.
DMAE nootropic supplements are typically sold as DMAE bitartrate for oral consumption. Most pills will typically range from 50 to 130 mg, but capsules with high doses of 600 mg are also available.
Clinical studies have administered anywhere from 50 to 1800 mg doses with generally safe effects. It is best to start with small amounts or a low dose for the first few days and gauge your body’s response before going to higher doses.
DMAE supplements should be taken alongside food for optimal absorption, and it is also important not to exceed the recommended amounts to prevent any side effects.
What Are The Side Effects of DMAE?
DMAE supplementation is considered nontoxic and possibly safe for short-term or intermittent use only. However, since not a lot is known about the safety of these supplements, they should be used along with professional medical advice.
Some possible side effects may include elevated blood pressure, headaches, an upset stomach, muscle tension, drowsiness, confusion, and irritability.
There is insufficient evidence for the health and safety of pregnant women or when breastfeeding, so this demographic should avoid using DMAE supplements.
DMAE bitartrate may also present several interactions with other prescription drugs, including antidepressants, antihistamines, cholinergic drugs for glaucoma, and acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.
Patients with schizophrenia, depression, or insomnia may experience increased symptoms if they use this substance without supervision. So ideally, anyone with bipolar disorder, epilepsy, or schizophrenia should also not use DMAE at all.
Only physicians can provide medical advice on whether DMAE or any other supplementation is suitable to add to your daily health regimen. Therefore, it is recommended to proceed with caution when using this drug.
DMAE is a naturally produced substance in the brain linked to supporting mental stimulation and enhancing cognitive function.
Most of its potential comes from its ability to boost acetylcholine, making it possibly effective for better memory and learning and retaining cognitive function with age.
There is also some evidence that treatment with deanol may help support mood and reduce fatigue.
As such, it is also used for improving different emotional states and physical wellbeing. In addition, some studies also observe its positive effects on the skin.
Since it is relatively well-tolerated by most people, it is considered safe to use as a dietary supplement but may still present some side effects. It isn’t a proper treatment for any medical condition, but it may help improve overall health.
That said, rigorous studies on the compound are lacking, and many of the positive effects reported come from users who have tried DMAE for one reason or another.
- Will DMAE show on a drug test?
There is conflicting information regarding DMAE showing on a drug test.
Some sources have reported that since DMAE is one methyl group from meth and does not have a phenyl ring, it won’t show on a drug test.
Others, however, indicate that the inclusion of DMAE as an ingredient could fail to pass drug tests.
- Can you take DMAE daily?
As a supplement, DMAE is considered safe for consumption in moderate doses. It is typically seen as safe to use for up to 3 months, but it has not been approved for medical use by the FDA.
- Is DMAE a choline source?
DMAE is a precursor of choline which assists the brain in optimizing acetylcholine production.