• 2-Dimethylaminoethanol, Deanol
DMAE (2-dimethylaminoethanol) is a chemical that has been used to treat a number of conditions affecting the brain and central nervous system. Like other such treatments, it is thought to work by increasing production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, although this has not been proven.
DMAE is sold in pharmacies and healthfood stores, as well as on the Internet, as a nutritional supplement.
Manufacturers' recommended dosages and those used in clinical studies vary between 400 and 1,800 mg daily.
More widely marketed today as a memory and mood enhancer, DMAE is said to improve intellectual functioning; however, there are no clinical studies that support its use for these purposes. The basis for such claims probably stems from its purported ability to increase levels of a neurotransmitter called
. Drugs and supplements called
that increase acetylcholine have been used to treat
What Is the Scientific Evidence for DMAE?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
There is some evidence that DMAE may be helpful for
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
, according to studies performed in the 1970s. Two such studies were reported in a review article on DMAE.
Another double-blind study compared DMAE with both methylphenidate (Ritalin) and placebo in 74 children described as having unspecified "learning disabilities" (also probably what we would call ADHD today).
Most people over the age of 40 experience some memory loss, but
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study involving 27 patients with Alzheimer's disease tested DMAE as a treatment.
An open trial enrolling 14 patients found no improvement in either memory or cognitive function. The researchers did note improvements in symptoms of depression. But, in the absence of a placebo group, this observation means little.
Based on its supposed cholinergic effect, DMAE has been proposed as a treatment for TD. Although some case reports and open studies seem to suggest that DMAE might be useful for this purpose,
Huntington's chorea is a genetically inherited disease that results in personality changes and, somewhat similarly to TD, uncontrolled spastic movements. It doesn't usually become symptomatic until a person's age reaches the late thirties or older, although about 10% of people with Huntington's will begin to show signs of the disorder in childhood or adolescence.
DMAE was not found to be an effective treatment for Huntington's chorea in double-blind, placebo-controlled trials, although mixed results have been obtained using DMAE in open trials.
Although most clinical investigations using DMAE report that the participants experienced no side effects, enough researchers have found adverse reactions to suggest that some caution is appropriate in using this supplement. One study, as noted above, reports increased confusion, drowsiness, and elevated blood pressure; 23
Maximum safe dosages for young children, pregnant or nursing women, or people with severe liver or kidney disease have not been established.
Last reviewed April 2009 by EBSCO CAM Review Board
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