January 12, 2012


DMAE stands for dimethylaminoethanol.  It is related to choline, which is part in the B- vitamin complex.  Choline has three main roles:  cell structural integrity and signaling, acetylcholine synthesis and cholinergic neurotransmission, and as a major source for methyl-groups through it’s metabolite betaine (trimethylglycine), which subsequently participates in S-adenyslmethinoine (SAMe) synthesis (more on the methylation process in a later blog…).

DMAE was used in the 60’s and 70’s as a treatment for hyperactivity and “minimal brain dysfunction”-(it wasn’t officially called ADHD until 1987).  In one 1975 study, at a dose of 500mg,  it evidenced efficacy on par with 40mg of Methylphenidate, reportedly improving performance in children with learning and behavior disorders.  The FDA subsequently asked for more research trials comparing Deanol (the trade name) to stimulants, but the cost-prohibitive procedures made the manufacture pull it from the market instead.  DMAE is now available over-the-counter in most health food stores.

The exact mechanism of action is not known, but is thought to assist in the production of acetylcholine, which is essential for executive function, memory and movement.   In addition to it’s role in ADHD treatment, it has found an adjunctive role Autism and Alzheimer’s treatments.

The average dose for children is between 50-200mg/day, but obviously, as in the study above, can be as high as 500mg.   It comes in 100mg, 250mg, and 351mg doses and is typically dosed once/day.  It can also be found as a component of many natural remedies for ADHD, like Added Attention by Buried Treasure.  Interestingly, it is also sold as an anti-aging cream, though I don’t know how much the cream is absorbed transdermally to affect hyperkinesis.    The main side-effects are gastrointestinal upset and irritability, and it is reportedly contraindicated in epilepsy.

Although stimulants are the first line pharmacological treatment for ADHD, DMAE might be a safe alternative consideration in attempting to address ADHD symptoms naturally.