What is DMAE?
DMAE stands for dimethylaminoethanol, and is also known under the brand names Deaner and Deanol. This compound has a very similar chemical structure to choline, but with one less methyl group. It’s produced in small amounts in our brains and occurs naturally in fatty fish such as sardines and salmon.
In the nootropic community, this supplement is used to help improve focus, memory, energy, and mental clarity. It’s also known to help protect against age-related cognitive decline and even impact how we dream.
Many of these benefits come from user reviews rather than scientific studies. As a drug it’s been used to help improve brain health in the elderly and reduce beta-amyloid, a pigment linked to Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment. Decades ago it was even used to help those with ADHD, with multiple studies confirming its efficacy.
Centrophenoxine vs DMAE
The biggest problem with supplementing DMAE is that it is not highly bioavailable and doesn’t easily pass through the blood-brain barrier. If you’re looking for a highly bioavailable source of this compound that can enter the brain and exhibits even better nootropic effects, you should supplement with centrophenoxine.
Centrophenoxine is made up of DMAE paired with parachlorophenoxyacetate (pCPA), and when taken, it will break down and deliver DMAE to your body. PCPA is an absorption enhancer which allows DMAE to more easily cross the blood-brain barrier. As a nootropic it has been shown to increase focus, concentration, energy, and protect against age-related cognitive decline.
In an animal study it was found that centrophenoxine was twice as effective as DMAE at increasing the levels of choline in the brain. (5)
Thanks to this increased absorption, any of the benefits associated with supplementing with DMAE are even more noticeable when supplementing with centrophenoxine.
How Does it Work?
While the mechanisms are not fully elucidated, this nootropic appears to act in the following ways:
Scavenges free radicals and reduces age pigment buildup
Increased brain levels of choline and acetylcholine
Changes brain wave activity
Scavenges Free Radicals and Reduces Lipofuscin Buildup
Studies have found that DMAE protects membrane fluidity through protecting against protein cross-linking and iron-induced oxidation, hence protecting membrane fluidity. It is thought that this ability to scavenge hydroxyl (OH) free radicals could explain its anti-aging effects. (1) This scavenging of free radicals makes this compound a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect your brain from the cognitive effects of aging.
Lipofuscin, also known as the “age pigment,” is set free when neurons die due to aging. (7) This waste product is not easily broken down, and is thought to be involved in the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease as well as general cognitive decline. It’s lipofuscin that is responsible for brown spots that appear on skin as people get older.
This pigment is also involved in degenerative eye diseases such as glaucoma and age related macular degeneration. This may be why some neurohackers report improved vision quality when supplementing with this drug.
Choline and Acetylcholine (ACh)
Studies have found that supplementation with DMAE increases the free choline found in the brain and blood and also boosts the production of the neurotransmitter ACh. (3,4) As a precursor to choline, this nootropic allows the brain to boost the production of ACh.
ACh is the primary neurotransmitter responsible for memory and learning. When ACh levels are increased in healthy adults, memory is likely to improve along with it. ACh is particularly important for the formation of new memories within the hippocampus.
Unfortunately, supplementing with just DMAE doesn’t allow much of this compound to get across the membrane protecting the brain. Luckily, centrophenoxine is much more bioavailable and can assist the DMAE in crossing over into the brain to help boost choline and ACh levels.
Alters Brain Wave Activity
In a human study on mood and emotional states, it was found that supplementation with DMAE led to reduced alpha and theta brain wave activity. (9) This kind of change in brain waves has previously been found to boost focus and determination in humans.
Benefits for the Brain
Enhanced Vision and Protection Against Alzheimer’s Disease
Many users who take DMAE report improved and clearer vision. Is has also been found that supplementation may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and may even help improve the symptoms for those who already have it. (2,8)
These benefits are thought to largely be thanks to DMAE reducing lipofuscin buildup. (2,8) Lipofuscin buildup is linked to both AD and degenerative eye diseases.
Getting rid of this waste may help to clear up vision. It was found in a study on mice that treatment with centrophenoxine led to a reduction of lipofuscin and changes in retinal pigment layers.
One of the most common reasons to supplement with this nootropic is to improve memory formation. .
Memory formation is dependent upon sufficient ACh levels in the brain. By boosting these levels, DMAE can is thought to have a positive influence on memory in healthy adults. When memory formation is improved, it can also help to overall increase learning ability. This is particularly useful for students or those who need to learn skills daily.
This supplement has been reported by many neurohackers to induce lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming occurs when you are aware that you’re dreaming and you have control over what happens. Many report lucid dreaming to not only be enjoyable but also capable of helping boost creativity, mood, and problem solving.
Others report vivid dreams as a side effect, where they are not in control but their dreams are more clear and easily remembered than they normally are.
How exactly DMAE elicits this response is not well understood, however it is hypothesized that this effect could be thanks to an increase in ACh, which is associated with sleep regulation.
ADHD and ADD
Some of the most profound benefits confirmed in human clinical trials revolve around the use of DMAE for treatment of ADHD. These studies took part in the 1970s, with numerous studies concluding that DMAE helped to improve hyperactivity and encourage concentration in children with ADHD.
In one of these studies it was even found that DMAE had similar efficacy to Ritalin but without as many negative side effects. (6)
Unfortunately, shortly after these studies provided promising results, research into the effect of this drug on ADHD halted. This is largely thanks to the drug no longer holding prescription drug status. As research is expensive, the benefit for pharmaceutical companies to continue with research quickly vanished.
Many nootropic users report an improvement in mental clarity and a reduction of brain fog when supplementing with this compound. This benefit is likely thanks to the increase in ACh levels.
While there have been no studies on DMAE and sex drive, some users report an increased libido when taking this supplement. By boosting mental energy and clarity it may leave users with more energy when it comes to sex as well.
Energy, Attention, and Mood
Those who use DMAE report experiencing fewer depression symptoms along with improved focus, determination, and energy. There are numerous mechanisms that may be at play when it comes to these nootropic benefits.
Participants in a human study on the effect of DMAE on emotional states found that supplementation for three months led to improved attention and vigilance. (9) These same subjects also reported feeling better and being more active in their everyday lives following supplementation.
The researchers believe that this impact was thanks to changes in the electrical pattern of brain wave activity: by reducing alpha and theta brain wave activity in particular.
Additionally, through enhancing the levels of the ACh neurotransmitter, DMAE may have slightly stimulatory effects. This too can boost energy and mood.
It is also hypothesized that supplementation with this supplement may help to boost dopamine levels, which would result in improvements in focus and mood. More studies are needed to confirm this hypothesis.
The most common side effects when taking this supplement include:
High blood pressure
People who should not take this supplement include:
Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant
Parkinson’s disease patients
People with seizure disorders
Those with bipolar depression
Those with schizophrenia
If you experience any side effects, you may want to take some time off of supplementation. You will want to cycle when taking this drug.
There are some drugs that DMAE can interfere with. These include anticholinergic drugs, acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors, and cholinergic drugs.
DMAE and L-Theanine
L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, is known to improve focus, enhance vision, and boost memory. It can also reduce anxiety and inhibit the increase in blood pressure that often accompanies anxiety.
As two of the common side effects of DMAE are elevated blood pressure and anxiety, stacking these two compounds together may help to reduce the negative side effects caused by this nootropic.
DMAE and Acetyl L-Carnitine
Acetyl L-Carnitine, also known as ALCAR, is converted into acetyl-COA, which binds with choline to produce ACh. As DMAE provides a source of choline, taking these two nootropics together can help to further boost the levels of ACh in your brain. This can enhance the benefits that you’ll experience when it comes to improved memory and learning abilities.
Outside of their both working on the cholinergic system, these two nootropics boast different benefits and pathways. Taking both can add additional benefits that you will not get by supplementing with just one.
If you do decide to take these nootropics as a stack, you will want to take them at different times during the day. This is thanks to their sharing a common transport protein, and they will therefore compete for absorption if taken simultaneously.
The supplemental form of this compound is as DMAE bitartrate. Recommended daily dosage of this compound ranges from 100-200 mg/day, however this supplement is only 37% DMAE. Thanks to this, a daily dose of this supplement would be closer to 250-500 mg daily.
It’s best to not take this supplement daily, but rather every other day in the morning, or on another cycle, such as 5 days on and 2 days off. It can be taken with or without food.
If you’re supplementing for ADHD rather than nootropic purposes, you are likely to need a higher dosage than those using for strictly nootropic purposes. It is recommended to start at the lowest dosage of 100 mg/day split into two doses and increase until you notice improvements.
Some people do supplement with up to 1,500 mg per day split into two doses.
While it is very difficult to overdose with this supplement, side effects are more common the more you take. Many users report more benefits at lower doses when compared to higher doses.
Thanks to its higher bioavailability and thus increased nootropic effects, many users looking to boost their DMAE levels will supplement with centrophenoxine instead. If you choose this supplement it is recommended to start at around 250 mg split into two doses and slowly increase to a maximum of 1,000 mg each day.
Reviews from User Experiences
“My mind became incredibly disciplined. Everything I saw or thought about was a problem to be solved. I would instinctively work to solve detailed analytical problems. I had a simply huge capacity to concentrate. I’m talking hours of intense, focused effort on what was really a pretty boring (even then) circuit layout project.” Reddit review of DMAE
“My first dose of DMAE was 250mg in the morning before I went in t my usual workday. I felt a very nice, subtle wakefulness that lasted all day...My focus seemed to have increased along with a shortened response time in my speaking. Words came to me easier and conversation seemed fluid and comfortable. These effects were not profound, but noticeable.” Reddit review of DMAE
Where to Buy DMAE
This supplement and centrophenoxine are both nearly impossible to find at your local pharmacy. We recommend going through one of our trusted nootropic vendors, Nootropics Depot or Pure Nootropics. Here you can rest assured you’re getting the highest quality drugs on the market and even read reviews from other neurohackers and their experiences.
- Electron spin resonance spectroscopic demonstration of the hydroxyl free radical scavenger properties of dimethylaminoethanol in spin trapping experiments confirming the molecular basis for the biological effects of centrophenoxine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6099712
- Effect of six months of treatment with V0191 in patients with suspected prodromal Alzheimer’s disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22330824 Summary: 24 weeks of supplementation led to a trend in improvement, however this trend was not significant
- New insights on dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) features as a free radical scavenger https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22300295
- Effect of centrophenoxine on acetylcholine release in perfused cerebral ventricles of cats under dynamic electrophysiological control https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/120108
- Increases in choline levels in rat brain elicited by meclofenoxate https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6806676
- Deanol and methylphenidate in minimal brain dysfunction https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1092513
- Lipofuscin hypothesis in Alzheimer’s Disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3235942/
- Effects of centrophenoxine on lipofuscin in the retinal pigment epithelium of old mice https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6410295
- Efficacy of dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) containing vitamin-mineral drug combination on EEG patterns in the presence of different emotional states. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12844472