Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE)

Overview

Dimethylaminoethanol is a naturally occurring substance that is a precursor to choline. In scientific literature, this compound is referred to as either DMAE or deanol. The results of studies with laboratory animals indicate that administration of DMAE results in elevations of choline in the blood and brain. (1) In theory, this makes DMAE a supplement that can increase the brain’s production of acetylcholine, which is one of the most important neurotransmitters involved in memory, learning, recall, and thought processes. However, since it is a natural product, very little money has been invested in researching DMAE’s benefits and clinical applications, therefore available studies are only available through the 1980’s. Back in the 1960's and 1970's, Riker Laboratories marketed DMAE as a prescription drug named Deaner. Riker Laboratories had obtained authorization from the FDA to market Deaner and promote it as “possibly effective" for the following indications:

    Learning problems associated with underachieving and shortened attention span Behavior problems associated with hyperactivity Combined hyperkinetic behavior and learning disorders with underachieving, reading and speech difficulties, impaired motor coordination, and impulsive/compulsive behavior, often described as asocial, antisocial, or delinquent

In 1983 Riker discontinued Deaner because the FDA demanded additional efficacy studies, which would have been more expensive than the product’s sales would support. However, DMAE has continued to be available as a nutritional supplement.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

Dosages typically used in clinical studies range from 10mg up to 2,000mg daily.

Most Common Dosage

100mg, 1-2 times daily. DMAE’s effects develop slowly over a period of two to four weeks.

Dosage Forms

Tablets and capsules.

Adult RDI

None established

Adult ODA

None established

Active Forms

2-dimethylaminoethanol

Absorption

It can be assumed that DMAE is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract because oral administration of radio-labeled DMAE results in increased plasma choline levels. (2)

Toxicities & Precautions

General

DMAE is relatively non-toxic and no serious side effects have ever been reported.

Side Effects

Continuous overdosing has reportedly caused a tenseness in the muscles of the neck, jaw, legs as well as others. In one study, 6 patients with Alzheimer’s disease withdrew due to drowsiness, confusion, and a mild increase in blood pressure. (3)

Functions in the Body

Precursor to choline

Administration of DMAE to rats either orally or by injection resulted in a significant increase of choline levels in both the blood and the brain. (4) However, one study reported that administration of DMAE did not result in measurable increases in brain acetylcholine, so this aspect of DMAE’s activity remains in question. (5)

Clinical Applications

Tardive Dyskinesia

In one study, seven patients with tardive dyskinesia who were treated with DMAE exhibited responses that were regarded as dramatic improvements, while nine patients made moderate but significant improvement, and thirteen patients made virtually no measurable progress. (6) In another study, some DMAE-treated patients and some placebo controls exhibited improvements while some members of both groups also exhibited increased deterioration. (7) Several other studies report that DMAE did not perform any better than the placebo treatment.

Alzheimer's Disease

DMAE may be helpful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease or senile dementia because of its cholinergic effects. However, research supporting this clinical application is weak. In one study, 10 of 14 senile patients exhibited reduced depression, less irritability and anxiety, and increased motivation-initiative, but memory and cognitive function did not improve. (8) Another study in 27 patients with moderately severe or severe Alzheimer's disease reported no benefits during a 5-week trial. (9) However, it should be emphasized that DMAE would be much more likely to provide benefits in patients with mild to moderate dysfunction rather than advanced cases of mental decline.

Hyperactivity

For years dimethylaminoethanol was used to treat children with hyperactivity disorders. (10) In addition to decreased hyperactivity, therapy with DMAE also reportedly produces increased attention span, decreased irritability, better student scholastic ability, and in some cases, an increase in I/Q scores. (11)

Symptoms and Causes of Deficiency

Since DMAE is not an essential nutrient for humans, no deficiency condition has been associated with it.

Dietary Sources

DMAE is not known to occur in foods.

References

  1. View Abstract: Jope RS, Jenden DJ. Dimethylaminoethanol (deanol) metabolism in rat brain and its effect on acetylcholine synthesis. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. Dec1979;211(3):472-9.
  2. View Abstract: Jope RS, Jenden DJ. Dimethylaminoethanol (deanol) metabolism in rat brain and its effect on acetylcholine synthesis. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. Dec1979;211(3):472-9.
  3. View Abstract: Fisman M, Mersky H, Helmes E. Double-blind trial of 2-dimethylaminoethanol in Alzheimer's disease. Am J Psychiatry. Jul1981;138(7):970-2.
  4. View Abstract: Jope RS, Jenden DJ. Dimethylaminoethanol (deanol) metabolism in rat brain and its effect on acetylcholine synthesis. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. Dec1979;211(3):472-9.
  5. View Abstract: Zahniser NR, Chou D, Hanin I. Is 2-dimethylaminoethanol (deanol) indeed a precursor of brain acetylcholine? A gas chromatographic evaluation. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. Mar1977;200(3):545-59.
  6. View Abstract: Stafford JR, Fann WE. Deanol acetamidobenzoate (Deaner) in tardive dyskinesia. Dis Nerv Syst. Dec1977;38(12 Pt 2):3-6.
  7. View Abstract: Kocher R, Hobi V, Linder M, Studer K. Treatment with dimethylaminoethanol (deanol) in neuroleptic induced tardive dyskinesia. Schweiz Arch Neurol Neurochir Psychiatr. 1980;126(1):103-9.
  8. View Abstract: Ferris SH, Sathananthan G, Gershon S, Clark C. Senile dementia: treatment with deanol. J Am Geriatr Soc. Jun1977;25(6):241-4.
  9. View Abstract: Fisman M, Mersky H, Helmes E. Double-blind trial of 2-dimethylaminoethanol in Alzheimer's disease. Am J Psychiatry. Jul1981;138(7):970-2.
  10. View Abstract: Lewis JA, Young R. Deanol and methylphenidate in minimal brain dysfunction. Clin Pharmacol Ther. May1975;17(5):534-40.
  11. Pfeiffer CC. Parasympathetic neurohumors. Possible precursors and effect on behavior. International Review of Neurobiology. 1959;Vol.1:195-244.