Research determines that DMAA is not ‘natural’ in origin and should not be used as an ingredient in dietary supplements

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Scientists at the public health organization NSF International and the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM) have published a research paper confirming that 1,3 dimethylamylamine, also known as DMAA, is not present in Geranium or Pelargonium species, or their essential oils. The research findings from NSF International and USARIEM further support research conducted by other laboratories at the universities of Milan (Italy), Mississippi, Texas at Arlington as well as ElSohly Laboratories, Inc. and the National Measurement Institute in Australia.

This is an important finding as DMAA, a substance which acts like a stimulant (e.g. amphetamine) in the body, presents a public health concern. Several dietary supplement manufacturers have incorporated DMAA into products by incorrectly classifying the substance as a natural constituent of Geranium or Pelargonium. And, under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), any naturally occurring ingredient, including any constituents of Geranium, can be sold over the counter as a dietary supplement.

Products containing DMAA have been linked to 86 reported health problems and at least five deaths.* As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued several warning letters to manufacturers who have formulated their products with DMAA and are urging people not to consume these products.

“Products that are linked to illness and death have no place in the dietary supplement industry. NSF International and the US Army research reveals that the DMAA found in these harmful products is a synthetic pharmaceutical and should be removed from over the counter products to avoid further harm to consumers,” said Ed Wyszumiala, General Manager of NSF International’s Dietary Supplement Certification programs.

NSF International in partnership with a diverse group of stakeholders from industry, academia and regulatory agencies developed the only American National Standard for dietary supplements (NSF/ANSI Standard 173). Testing and certification of dietary supplements to this standard helps protect consumers by verifying that dietary supplements have accurate labels and do not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

The NSF Certified for Sport® program takes the NSF Dietary Supplement Certification program a step further by screening dietary supplements for more than 170 athletic banned substances. This program is used by the NFL, NHL, MLB, PGA, LPGA Canadian Center for Ethics in Sport (CCES) and the New York City Police Department. Additionally, NSF conducts ongoing testing and audits the manufacturing facility to confirm compliance to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) for both NSF Dietary Supplement and Certified for Sport Certifications.

“NSF International’s Dietary Supplement and Certified for Sport certification programs help consumers and athletes make more informed decisions knowing that what is on the label matches what is in the bottle and they are not consuming any unintended substances like DMAA,” said Wyszumiala.

Background on the research paper: Using ultra performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC-MS/MS), the NSF International and USARIEM scientists analyzed Pelargonium and Geranium plant material and essential oils, in addition to raw DMAA powder and seven dietary supplements labeled as containing DMAA or one of its synonyms. No measurable levels of DMAA were present in Geranium, Pelargonium or their essential oils at a detection limit of 1–2 ng/g. Analysis did confirm the presence of DMAA in all seven dietary supplement products and raw DMAA powder. Concentrations of DMAA found in dietary supplements ranged from 0.11% to 67.3%. This study indicates DMAA contained in dietary supplements is not present in the plant species Geranium and Pelargonium and is likely of synthetic origin; thus the ‘natural’ origin and use of DMAA as an ingredient in dietary supplements are not substantiated. The full research is published in the Journal of Drug Testing and Analysis and can be downloaded here:

For more information about NSF International’s Dietary Supplement Certification programs, visit NSF's website or contact Peter Langlais at or +1 734-545-2023.

Editor’s note: If you would like to set up an interview with an NSF Health Sciences expert, email Greta Houlahan at or call 734-913-5723.

About NSF International: NSF International is an independent global organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the construction, food, water and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment ( Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. Operating in more than 150 countries, NSF is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and has been collaborating with the World Health Organization since 1997 in water quality and safety, food safety and indoor environments.

The NSF Health Sciences Division offers training and education, consulting, auditing, GMP and GLP testing, certification, R&D and regulatory guidance for the pharmaceutical, medical device and dietary supplement industries throughout the product lifecycle. The division also supplies pharmaceutical secondary reference standards, traceable to USP and EP standards. NSF wrote the only accredited American National Standard (NSF/ANSI 173) that verifies the health and safety of dietary supplements and also tests and certifies products to this standard. The NSF Health Sciences Division operates globally throughout North America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

NSF International offers ISO 13485 registrations for medical devices and CE marking delivered through NSF International Strategic Registrations, Ltd. (NSF-ISR), as well as drinking water filtration certification through the NSF Global Water Division. Additional services include safety audits for the food and water industries, environmental and sustainability services through NSF Sustainability and training courses through NSF Training and Education.

Disclaimer: The opinions or assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and should not be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Army the Department of Defense.

*Source: New York Times