At a party just before midnight the man took two tablets labelled as “99.9%-pure DMAA” along with a 150mg caffeine capsule. He had already consumed a can of beer.
“Dimethylamylamine (DMAA) is one of the next generation of ‘BZP-free’ party pills. This report describes a case of a serious complication associated with the recreational use of DMAA,” doctors from Christchurch hospital reported in a December 2010 issue of the NZ Medical Journal (NZMJ).
Testing revealed the DMAA capsules contained 278mg of DMAA (specifically 1,3 dimethylamylamine), and no other stimulants.
“A detailed examination revealed receptive and expressive dysphasia,” the doctors wrote.
“His short term memory was impaired. He displayed constructional and dressing dyspraxias. He had impaired stereognosis. He had right-sided weakness grade 4+/5 in upper and lower limbs. He suffered a focal seizure involving his right arm and was commenced on phenytoin.”
“A subsequent cerebral angiogram failed to show evidence of aneurysm, arteriovenous malformation or any cerebral vasculitis to account for the haemorrhage.”
The man was discharged after 15 days having made a full recovery.
The AER follows two deaths in the US military that are being investigated after DMAA was found in the bloodstream of the deceased. While that investigation is going on, DMAA products like Jack3D have been banned for sale at US military establishments.
The authors of the NZMJ article – Drs Paul Gee, Suzanne Jackson and Josie Easton – noted the AER was not the first to be linked to DMAA recreational use in New Zealand.
“In this case, cerebral haemorrhage is likely to be linked to the ingestion of DMAA and caffeine,” they wrote. “The time sequence is suggestive of cause and effect. Cerebral haemorrhage is associated with both episodic and chronic stimulant use.”
“In addition a 2009 news report cited a New Zealand Ministry of Health document detailing three cases of severe headache with vomiting and one case of cerebral haemorrhage associated with DMAA use.”
The New Zealand Ministry of Health has moved to make DMAA available only to over-18s but it remains on sale mostly via internet vendors.
DMAA exists in a regulatory grey area because there is an ongoing debate about whether it is sourced from the geranium plant or not. It was first manufactured synthetically by drug giant Eli Lily in the 1940s and trademarked as Forthane in 1971, but is commonly labelled on products as a derivative of geranium.
The US Food and Drug Administration has joined European investigations being conducted in Italy and France into the source of DMAA, with products likely to be banned if it is found to be purely synthetically sourced.