Is DMHA present in Kigelia africana?
Many pre-workout formulas that are in the web stores at the time of writing this post are extracts of Kigelia africana. And those extracts contain the stimulant DMHA. At least, that is what the supplement industry says. Research from independent laboratories shows otherwise.
DMHA is a stimulant similar to DMAA and DMBA. The FDA considers DMHA to be a substance that should not be present in nutritional supplements. [fda.gov 04/29/2019] The WADA has put DMHA on its Prohibited List under the name octodrine.
Speaking of doping, the popularity of DMHA leads to doping cases. Athletes who use DMHA test positive for heptaminol, another stimulant. In the body, DMHA converts into heptaminol.
According to the supplement industry, DMHA is a natural substance. Reviews state that DMHA is a constituent of the bark of the walnut tree Juglans regia, the nightshade family member Aconitum kusnezoffii and the fruits of Kigelia africana [top of this page]. [Brain Sci. 2018 Feb 20;8(2):34.]
In 2014, Australian researchers did indeed find DMHA in Kigelia africana. [Pharmacog. Comm. 2014, 4, 10-32.] But if you read their publication, you can see that the amount of DMHA in Kigelia africana is very, very small. So small that it is almost inconceivable that the DMHA in supplements comes from this plant.
Click on the figure below for a larger version.
In 2018, U.S. researchers at the University of Mississippi purchased and analyzed 13 supplements containing DMHA. [J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2018 Apr 15;152:298-305.] They also analyzed 15 samples from Aconitum and Kigelia plants.
The researchers did not find DMHA in any plant extract.
The outcome of the analysis of the supplements was less clear. DMHA was in 4 of the 13 supplements, but not in the other 9. In the 4 products in which the Americans did find DMHA, the concentration varied considerably.
When the Americans analyzed the DMHA in the supplements, they discovered that it was of industrial origin. The DMHA in the supplements was a mixture of enantiomers. Natural DMHA is a single substance, not a mixture.
In addition, the Americans found in the supplements substances that arise during the chemical synthesis of DMAA, but which the manufacturer was unable or unwilling to purify.
Testing positive for heptaminol after using octodrine 15.05.2020