Comprehensive Guide to Dimethylaminoethanol (Dame)

DimethylaminoethanolDr. James Meschino DC, MS, ND
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General Features
Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE), also known as Deanol, is a naturally occurring substance that is structurally similar to choline, a nutrient used by the brain to make the memory chemical acetylcholine. Studies on DMAE date back to the 1950's and indicate that DMAE may be of value in the treatment of autism and for children with hyperkinetic behavior and learning disorders. Initially, it was claimed that DMAE could increase brain levels of acetylcholine based upon animal experimentation, but concrete evidence is lacking to support this effect in humans.

Principle Active Constituents
2-Dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) is the active ingredient and was marketed as a prescription drug in the 1960's and 1970's under the name Deanol.4,5 DMAE is now a natural health product and is no longer categorized as an over-the-counter or prescription drug.
Clinical Application and Mechanism of Action
1. Attention Deficit Disorder, Childhood Hyperactivity and Autism
Some studies have shown that DMAE can improve attention span and decrease irritability in children affected by attention deficit problems and hyperactivity disorders.4, In one study involving 74 children referred for treatment for childhood hyperactivity, 500 mg of Deanol per day was shown to be as effective or better than the drug methylphenidate with respect to improved learning capability and correction of behavior disorders.
A 1988 survey by the Institute for Child Behavior in San Diego revealed that DMAE was the second most popular supplement used by parents to help their children with autism, after vitamin B6 and magnesium, with two parents indicating improvement for every one parent reporting a worsening of the condition from DMAE supplement use.
2. Dementia and Alzheimer's disease
Several studies have tested the use of DMAE in Alzheimer's and dementia patients. Overall, results do not show an improvement in memory or cognitive function, but do suggest that it may reduce depression, irritability and anxiety, and increase motivation-initiative.
Dosage and Standardized Grade
1. Childhood Attention Deficit Disorder, Hyperactivity And Autism - 500 mg per day has been used in various studies, but 100 mg once or twice per day can be used. DMAE's effects generally develop slowly over a period of two to four weeks.
2. Alzheimer's disease and Dementia - Doses up to 600 mg, three times per day, have been used without untoward side effects.3 However, some patients have reported increased confusion and drowsiness in trials with Alzheimer's patients.
3. General Wellness - Doses as low as 10 to 20 mg per day have been used to produce a pleasant degree of central nervous system stimulation within 7-10 days. One study on medical students demonstrated greater daytime energy, attentiveness, sounder sleep and better ability to concentrate than the placebo group, when given a daily dosage of 10 mg for the first week and two, 10 mg tablets per day for the second week, after which the subjects could modify their own dosage for a total of six consecutive weeks.
Adverse Side Effects, Toxicity and Contraindications
DMAE can cause drowsiness and confusion in some Alzheimer's patients. Other reported side effects include lucid dreaming, depression and hypomania (moderate mania).10,11,12 As well, dull headache can occur when used in large initial doses and continued over-dosage can produce insomnia and tenseness of the neck, jaw, legs, and other sites. Thus, it is better to build up the dosage slowly over time.13 Studies on humans and animals do not reveal any significant toxicity of DMAE.
Epilepsy - DMAE may exacerbate epileptic seizure frequency.
Drug-Nutrient Interactions
Anticholinergic Medications - DMAE has the potential to alter the action of drugs intended to increase acetylcholine levels, such as atropine, benztropine, hyposcyamine, ipratropium, scopolamine, trihexyphenidyl and scopolamine.
Pregnancy and Lactation
During pregnancy and lactation, the only supplements that are considered safe include standard prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements. All other supplements or dose alterations may pose a threat to the developing fetus and there is generally insufficient evidence at this time to determine an absolute level of safety for most dietary supplements other than a prenatal supplement. Any supplementation practices beyond a prenatal supplement should involve the cooperation of the attending physician (e.g., magnesium and the treatment of preeclampsia.)

References: Pregnancy and Lactation
1. Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements. Murray M. Prima Publishing 1998.
2. Reavley NM. The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, and Herbs. Evans and Company Inc. 1998.
3. The Healing Power of Herbs (2nd edition). Murray M. Prima Publishing 1995.
4. Boon H and Smith M. Health Care Professional Training Program in Complementary Medicine. Institute of Applied Complementary Medicine Inc. 1997.
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3. Ferris SH, Sathananthan G, Gershon S, Clark C. Senile dementia: treatment with deanol. J Am Geriatr Soc, Jun1977;25(6):241-4
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9. Dietary Supplement Information Bureau.
10. Fisman M, Mersky H, Helmes E. Double-blind trial of 2-dimethylaminoethanol in Alzheimer's disease. Am J Psychiatry, 1981;138:970-2
11. Sergio W. Use of DMAE (2-dimethylaminoethanol) in the induction of lucid dreams. Med Hypotheses, 1988;26:255-7
12. Casey DE. Mood alterations during deanol therapy. Psychopharmacology, 1979;62:187-91
13. Walker, Morton. Meical journalist report of innovative biologics: Forestalling the effects of aging with Dimethylaminoethanol. Townsend Letters for Doctors & Patients; 11/01/1990;8:752-6