What is DMAE?
Di-methyl amino ethanol (DMAE) or di-methyl ethanol amine (DMEA) or simply deanol is a natural compound majorly found in specific oily fish (e.g. anchovies, sardines, salmon etc.). Moreover, it is also produced in human brain, liver and other parts of the body in small quantities. The compound is used in a number of industries (e.g. water treatment, paint removers, corrosion inhibitors etc.) including pharmaceutical industry as well. The pharmaceutical industry markets the compound or its derivatives for cognitive benefits as well as for cosmetic use.
How does DMAE work?
The cognitive benefits of DMAE are associated with production of choline, an essential nutrient. This nutrient is believed to be a precursor of acetylcholine which is an important neuro-transmitter. Acetylcholine facilitates learning, attention, memory as well as sound sleep. This way, the DMAE supplements are supposed to benefit in improving memory, concentration, and quality of sleep as well as in reducing depression. The drug is anticipated to improve mood by boosting energy in patients with clinical depression and anxiety. Recently, DMAE has also been used in the cosmetic industry to help prevent skin aging. The compound helps in skin tightening reducing skin wrinkles.
There are questions of the derivation of choline or acetylcholine from DMAE supplements. Some investigators have shown that choline produced by DMAE in liver is charged, and thus incapable of crossing blood-brain barrier. While others claim that DMAE itself can enter the brain, attach to phospholipids replacing choline and then increase fluidity and permeability in nerve membranes. An improved version of DMAE compound, Centrophenoxine, has been introduced in pharmaceutical industry which is thought to be more efficient in crossing blood-brain barrier.
Effects of DMAE
The compound is known from 1950s and a lot of research has been carried out on use of DMAE supplements. It has been reported by a number of studies that though the compound may not be beneficial in improving memory, however it can be helpful in mental decline with aging. The compound has been successfully used for ADHD (attention deficit and hyper-activity disorder) but is not found helpful in Alzheimer’s disorder, Huntington’s disease or other memory related disorders. The compound is thought to reduce levels of age pigments which disturb the cognitive processes in humans. Moreover, the compound has also been shown to reduce depression by anti-oxidation effects and is shown to increase sharpness and alertness in its users.
Side-Effects of DMAE
One should consult a physician to know about efficacy and reactions of drug according to his own medical condition. Potential side effects reported for DMAE supplements are itching, undesirable muscular jerks, headache, tiredness, confusion, difficulty in sleeping etc.
Moreover, the drug is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women as well as those suffering from potential disorders like seizures and schizophrenia. In some mouse experiments, DMAE is reported to induce neural tube defects. In addition, the drug may interact with drying medications.