When I Tried…DMAA

A slightly different approach this time around for When I Tried in that I’m going to be talking about a substance, DMAA, rather than focusing on one product. DMAA has been in the news as recently as last week, seeing Usain Bolt lose one of his Olympic gold medals.

In addition to this post, you can also listen to a live interview I did with BBC 3 Counties Radio on 30th January alongside Dr Chris Jones here – scroll to 39 minutes to hear about my experience using DMAA. I’d ask you to forgive my nasal and monotonous voice but apparently that’s just how I sound, so no forgiveness required.

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Erm, you’ve lost me. DMAA?

DMAA (also known as 1,3-dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine or geranium extract) is a banned ingredient – it’s banned in the UK and by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA). It can be found in some supplements – mainly pre-workout and/or weight loss supplements.

DMAA can be a health risk, especially in combination with caffeine and other stimulants. It can cause issues including increased blood pressure, strokes, and cardiovascular problems ranging from shortness of breath and tightening in the chest to heart attack.


I was contacted by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to share my experience of using a supplement containing DMAA. The MHRA are running a Week of Action as part of their #FakeMeds campaign to alert people to the dangers of DMAA. The most high profile incident in the UK concerning DMAA was when it was sadly responsible for the death of London marathon runner Claire Squires in 2012.

The MHRA are working hard to remove from sale all supplements containing DMAA. If you find one for sale, or have questions or concerns then contact dmaa@mhra.gsi.gov.uk

It really is serious stuff.

Yet, years ago I used to consume it regularly without knowing the risks. To be honest, I had no idea what was in the supplement I was using and that in itself is a massive problem.

If you’re using supplements, let me ask you a few questions:

  • Do you really know exactly what you’re putting into your body?
  • Do you read up on every chemical/ingredient that’s in a supplement?
  • Do you know what each of those ingredients actually do?

For the most part, I’d guess at probably not.

A scary thought given the popularity of supplementation for training, weight loss, or in amateur sports. In a survey by Mintel.com (June 2016) over two in five (42%) UK consumers aged 16-24 had consumed sports nutrition products in the past three months.

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Seasoned supplement users will best know DMAA for it’s inclusion in the previous formula of the pre-workout supplement “Jack3d” – it’s what I used to use. The formulas have since changed but only a few weeks ago I was speaking to someone who was looking for the “old version”. Do you know what? You can probably find it somewhere.

I remember everything about Jack3d. The “good”, the bad, and the ugly.

The good side – if we can call it that, was a strange experience. I’ve never had a pre-workout drink that gave me so much energy, drive, and focus. I’d walk into the gym and feel absolutely invincible. I’ve been talking to people on Facebook and Twitter about it, they recall feeling “like a God” or “like riding a winged unicorn into battle”. While both of those sound extreme, ridiculously they aren’t far from the truth.

Now for the bad and the face-for-radio-ugly. For starters, there was the crash a few hours later. I’d feel down, depressed, tired, ratty, and generally happy to remain in total isolation. I also remember getting chest pains when inhaling – again something that probably shouldn’t be happening. Finally, when it was time for bed (probably around 11pm in my wild days), there were heart palpitations, and the inability to actually get any kind of proper sleep. Bad & Ugly Rovers 4-0 Good Utd. That’s a trouncing.

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The thing is, all of this stuff was bad, and I should’ve seen the warning signs. But I didn’t. None of it felt severe enough to stop using it at the time. As with any drug, I was just focusing on my next high and worked my way through three tubs of the stuff. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Make sure you check out the MHRA Week of Action page for more information on DMAA.

Please share this post if you enjoyed it, and help to spread the message about the dangers of DMAA.