In bodybuilding circles, Jack3d and OxyElite are practically household names. Now the US Army removed both supplements from stores in military bases, as two soldiers died from heart attacks after using them.
The main ingredient in these supplements is dimethylamylamine (DMAA), a stimulant related to amphetamine and ephedrine.
Originally discovered in 1944 by pharma company Eli Lilly and marketed as a nasal decongestant, it led an unenventful life – until 2006, when a final ban on marketing ephedrine as a dietary supplement was enacted and DMAA was discovered to be a rather close alternative.
That its safety for human usage and toxocological profile have never been properly studied didn’t keep anyone from selling it.
From Nasal Decongestant To Party Pill
Accordingly, it took the former nasal decongestant only two years to start making first infamous waves in its new role as stimulant.
In 2008, partygoers in New Zealand began using it as a substitute for pills relying on illegal substances to induce euphoria and increased energy levels. Soon reports of side effects started coming in.
One year later, the first case of a clinical overdose of DMAA became known: a 21-year old man developed cerebral haemorrhage (a rupture of blood vessels in the brain) after taking 2 DMAA tablets, each coming with 278 mg.
Now two US soldiers died, apparently after using Jack3d and OxyElite Pro. An army spokesman told the New York Times that DMAA had been identified in the toxicology reports of both. There also were reports of liver and kidney failure, rapid heartbeat, seizures and loss of consciousness from other users.
Does this at least lead to halting sales of supplements containing DMAA to the general public, at least until the connection of Jack3D and OxyElite Pro to these deaths is cleared? No. While they are investigated, you, I and anyone else can still walk into a store and buy them.
It is a pity in the first place that it took two deaths to get an investigation going that should have been conducted before DMAA was marketed as a supplement. But it also is, in my opinion, absolutely astonishing that in the fitness sphere anything can be advertised for human usage without safety having been established beforehand.
Watch After Yourself
Imagine what would happen if drugs were sold using the same principle: no testing, just throwing them out on the market and then see what happens. And when we deal with dietary supplements, we often in fact are dealing with quasi-medical products.
That basically leaves the onus on you. Whatever you use, be extra careful, get all the information you can get and then decide if a small advantage to your training is worth potentially serious side effects.
Update October 10, 2013: For the recent cases involving OxyElite Pro and hepatitis, please read here.
Picture courtesy of “epsos.de“.