What Is DMHA (Octodrine) and How It Can Be Used

Muscular man in gym pumping chest with struggling expression

DMHA has become one of the most used pre-workout ingredients due to its reported ability to increase physical and mental energy. Is a DMHA pre-workout safe? Does it deliver on its energy-boosting promises? And is DMHA legal? Let’s find out in this DMHA review.

Pre-workout and nootropic or brain-boosting supplements have skyrocketed in popularity over the last decade. Seems like everyone needs a physical and mental boost before a tough workout or big exam. One ingredient that is finding its way into these types of supplements is DMHA, also known as Methylhexanamine or Octodrine.

What was once used as a nasal decongestant in over-the-counter medicine, DMHA (Dimethylhexylamine) has now become a staple in many pre-workout supplements. Is this a safe pre-workout ingredient to use to support performance and gains? More importantly, does it work? Let’s take a look at what is DMHA, how it works, and how it compares to DMAA.

What is DMHA?

3d render of preworkout powder dumbells and kettlebell

Originally developed to stimulate sympathetic nerves – it’s labelled as an indirect sympathomimetic drug – DMHA is an effective nasal decongestant. This was its original purpose and it was only after users found that it produced a boost in energy and mental alertness did it become a popular pre-workout ingredient.

According to the FDA, if you are sensitive to stimulants, you need to be aware that DMHA can be found in your pre-workout supplement under one of the following names:

  • 1,5-Dimethylhexylamine
  • 1,5-DMHA
  • 2-amino-5-methylheptane
  • 2-amino-6-methylheptane
  • 2-aminoisoheptane
  • 2-Heptylamine, 6-methyl-
  • 2-Isooctyl amine
  • 2-Metil-6-amino-eptano
  • 6-Amino-2-methylheptane
  • Amidrine
  • Vaporpac

Due to this confusion with label classification, the FDA has already sent warning letters to a number of supplement companies.

Is DMHA Legal to Use?

As of the time this article was written, DMHA is completely legal and available for purchase online or at your local pharmacy.

However, this status is not guaranteed to stay that way. As of 2019, the FDA is considering changing the legal status of DMHA. As mentioned above, a number of popular supplement companies have already received letters and guidelines from the FDA concerning their DMHA-based pre-workouts. While DMHA is currently legal, we aren’t sure for how much longer, but we’ll update this article if things change.

With that said, due to reported side effects and several deaths that have been linked to supplements containing DMHA, the compound is banned by many sports’ authority organizations. Professional athletes and bodybuilders cannot test positive for DMHA as they may be suspended or banned from that season or competition.

How DMHA Works

DMHA acts as a central nervous system stimulant that increases the uptake of dopamine and noradrenaline. Both of these compounds are neurotransmitters in the brain and noradrenaline functions as a hormone.

As a nasal decongestant, DHMA can alleviate inflammation and swelling through the constriction of blood vessels in your sinus cavity. As a pre-workout, DMHA stimulates the release of noradrenaline, which produces the famous boosts in energy and mental alertness.

Side Effects of Octodrine

Given its status as a stimulant, it should be no surprise that this supplement brings with it a list of potentially troublesome side effects. Studies show that these are the most common DMHA pre-workout side effects:

  • Mood swings
  • Concentration deficiency
  • Over-stimulation
  • Energy crashes
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Dyspnoea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Heartburn
  • Tremors

While these side effects can be found with most pre-workout stimulants, what is most troubling about DMHA is that these side effects were reported up to eight hours after ingestion.

DMHA Pre-Workouts

DMHA powder-based pre-workouts have exploded in popularity because of anecdotal reports from hardcore users. Are DMHA pre-workout supplements all hype?

Why is DMHA Used in Pre-Workouts?

As mentioned above, DMHA increases the uptake of two key compounds: dopamine and noradrenaline. Both of these neurotransmitters are essential for increasing your energy levels. Here’s why:

Dopamine has been shown in studies to control motivation and a person’s desire to act. By increasing dopamine, you boost action and theoretically your performance in the gym.

Noradrenaline works side by side with adrenaline as both are released during fight-or-flight response moments where a surge in energy is needed.

Put together, these two compounds can elicit a boost in energy and motivation to get moving. This is why DMHA is popular as a pre-workout ingredient.

What Are the Popular DMHA Pre-Workouts?

Muscular man wearing burning black sports jacket

Some of the following are considered the best-selling DMHA pre-workouts:

  • Psychotic Labz: Psycho Circus
  • Team Six: Stimulant-1
  • Giant Sports: Giant Rush

Be aware that with supplements that offer a proprietary blend – listing the ingredient but not the dosage – you cannot tell exactly how much DMHA you are getting per serving. This could be dangerous if you’re sensitive to stimulants and the supplement contains a high dosage of DMHA.

How to Take It

Due to the stimulant status of DMHA, we highly recommend testing out a DMHA supplement at a quarter or half the recommended dosage. This will help you determine whether you’re able to handle the ingredient without risking the worst of the side effects.

Once you confirm whether or not you can handle a full serving, take as recommended, but avoid taking the supplement six to eight hours before your bedtime.

What is the Cost?

DMHA pre-workouts can get pricey with the average cost per serving coming in at around $2.75. Expect to pay anywhere from $35 to $60 for a one-month supply, based on whether or not the supplement brand is on sale.

DMHA vs DMAA

DMHA or Octodrine has often been compared to a stimulant called dimethylamylamine, more commonly known as DMAA. This presents a level of concern because DMAA has been banned in several countries due to concerns with side effects. Let’s take a look at DMHA vs. DMAA to see if the two share any important similarities or differences.

Similarities

Chemical Structure:

Chemically-speaking, DMHA and DMAA are very similar. In fact, the two are sometimes and mistakenly used interchangeably.

Uses:

Both are vasoconstricting agents and central nervous system stimulants that can be used as nasal decongestants and for energy boosting in dietary supplements.

Side Effects:

Both DMHA and DMAA present a list of potentially dangerous side effects that focuses on cardiovascular issues and psychological complications.

Differences

Legal Status:

DMAA is currently considered an illegal substance and it cannot be purchased. If found in a drug test, this may eliminate an athlete from a competition or performance during a season. DMHA is currently legal and available for purchase; however, that may soon be changing as the FDA is pushing for DMHA to be considered an illegal product. You can read more about the FDA’s decision here.

Strength:

While there is no human-based study that compares the effects of DMHA vs. DMAA, many anecdotal reports say that DMAA is far stronger. This could be why it was banned. With that said, many users of DMHA claim that there is no difference between the two if using the proper dosage. One report said that using 200 mg of DMHA was the equivalent of using 75 mg of DMAA.

DMHA Pre-Workouts: Be Wary of Using Them

Despite the reported benefits of DMHA as an energy booster, the side effects may be more than the user bargains for. DMHA is a central nervous system stimulant and it acts by increasing the release of a fight-or-flight hormone (noradrenaline). DMHA has been shown to spike blood pressure and heart rate, which may send some users into a panic if they have prior cardiovascular-based medical issues.
There are far better energy supplements available on the market that don’t pack the same risk as DMHA such as green tea extract and green coffee bean. We highly recommend trying a natural energy supplement and avoiding DMHA as it may be taken off the market soon anyway.

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