A number of dietary supplements contain a chemical similar to amphetamines, which could carry significant health risks, according to the findings of new research.
In a study published last week in the medical journal Drug Testing and Analysis, researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of California, San Francisco found β-methylphenylethylamine (BMPEA) in a number of dietary supplements and warn that the chemical has never been tested for safety or efficacy.
Researchers indicate that they decided to conduct the test after they were unable to find out from the FDA which supplements contained the substance, which is similar to amphetamines.
Amphetamines are stimulants that impact the central nervous system. Used primarily in drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy, like Adderall and Dexedrine, the drugs can cause heart problems, hypertension, tachycardia, erectile dysfunction, stomach pain, nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss and can lead to depression, mood swings, restlessness, insomnia and other problems.
According to the researchers, the FDA recently discovered BMPEA was found in dietary supplements that contain Acacia rigidula. They found BMPEA in 11 of 21 dietary supplements tested, although the FDA had called for the removal of BMPEA from the drugs over a year before.
They found BMPEA in dietary supplements such as Jetfuel, Fastin-XR, Yellow Scorpion, Black Widow, Lipodrene Hardcore, Aro Burn and others.
Researchers note that FDA regulations call for dietary supplements to only contain ingredients that are part of the food supply or had been found in foods before 1994. BMPEA meets neither of those requirements, the researchers said.
“Consumers of Acacia rigidula supplements may be exposed to pharmacological dosages of an amphetamine isomer that lacks evidence of safety in humans,” the researchers concluded. “The FDA should immediately warn consumers about BMPEA and take aggressive enforcement action to eliminate BMPEA in dietary supplements.”
On the same day the study was published the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) issued a statement calling for the FDA to enforce existing regulations and go after the dietary supplement manufacturers using BMPEA.
“Under the law, the agency can demand a product recall for potential safety concerns,” the CRN statement notes. “It can also declare these products misbranded because synthetic BMPEA was not listed on the labels, or proclaim they are adulterated for the simple fact that there has been no pre-market notification submitted for BMPEA as required by law. These legal options come with the ability for FDA to seek injunctive relief to remove the products from the market, as well as a range of civil and criminal penalties for those who intentionally introduce these products to consumers.”
In December, Health Canada issued a recall of Jetfuel Superburn because it contained BMPEA and phenylpropylmethylamine, another amphetamine-like drug.
No similar recalls have been issued in the U.S.