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Bad news bodybuilders: dimethylamylamine (DMAA) may be responsible for the deaths of two soldiers, according to the U.S. Army. Eh, just another day and another story about a sports supplement gone wrong? Not for me. This story hit me hard. Probably because I have some DMAA in my cabinet as we speak.

You may not recognize DMAA by acronym alone but it’s also known as Asian geranium extract and it’s found in some of the most popular – and most effective – supplements on the market like J3cked (pronounced “jacked” in case you don’t want to look like an idiot in front of the GNC salesman like I did) and OxyElite Pro. I’ve taken both. While I hate J3cked and steer clear of it – it was part of the cocktail I took that, forgive me – jacked me up, and made me puke my way through a ten-mile race a year and a half ago – OxyElite Pro is a different story.

I don’t remember how I came by my first pill. Friends (and smart ones, even) of all fitness stripes – bodybuilders, racers, triathletes – swear by the stuff. Someone along the line gave me one and while it made me feel awful, it did really work for me. I had a ton of energy, I recovered faster, I could focus better and it didn’t give me that jagged high-then-crash that plain caffeine does. It also gave me heart palpitations, excessive sweating, hot flashes, whole body shakes and waves of nausea.

There’s a reason for all that: It’s an amphetamine derivative, deemed more potent than even ephedrine. You know what they make out of ephedrine? METH. You remember the scandal over ephedra/ma-huang killing people a decade ago? This stuff is five times more potent. In addition to being illegal in Canada and the European Union, “the World Anti-Doping Authority, the international body that regulates drug use by Olympic athletes, and several professional sports leagues have listed DMAA as a banned stimulant.” If I were an Olympic athlete I’d have been kicked out. Thank goodness I’m just a stupid suburban soccer mom! Phew, dodged that bullet!

While I liked the results, the side effects kept me from using it on a regular basis – I can’t even remember the last time I took one – but I kept the bottle around for those few occasions where I felt like I really needed the extra kick. Here’s the thing though: I didn’t know any of this when I bought it. I have more friends than I have fingers that use this stuff all the time and I’m pretty sure they don’t know either. How is it that I am allowed to walk into any GNC and buy amphetamines right off the shelf as a “sports supplement”? This blows my mind.

I remember the last time I bought a bottle of OxyElite Pro and the GNC guy commended me, telling me that in his opinion this was the best fat burner on the market. We went back and forth about the various uses for it and the side effects but never once did it come up that this wasn’t just some herbal caffeine-ish supp I was popping, like I thought. And USP Labs, the manufacturer, has all this research and science-y stuff on their site saying how safe and effective it is. Seriously how innocent does “geranium leaf” sound?

Yet the Army says in addition to “heart events,” it also has reports of liver and kidney failure, seizures, loss of consciousness, and rapid heartbeat from DMAA toxicity.

My bottle has 30 pills in it. I have 26 left. And since I only take one at a time (the recommended dosage is two in the morning, one in the afternoon but one alone made me feel so freaky I never dared take more) that means there were four occasions in the past year or so that I put my life – and my children’s mother’s life – on the line for the sake of some minor athletic enhancement.

(Continue Reading @ Frugivore…)

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  • Pat

    Folks need to research what they put in their mouths more than ever. From natural supplements to the prescriptions docs provide. Pharmaceutical companies re-use drugs by adding new ingredients, rename the drug and POP out on the market it goes. There are so many drugs out over the counter that are not FDA approved. Go to your local drug store and look at the popular brands, check the main ingredients and Presto you will notice other non-brands have been reformulated. What folks don’t know is that we are human guinea pigs to these companies. Research what Viagra,Cocaine and Ecstacy was originally used for.

  • E.M.S.

    I began looking for a supplement to help with my workouts this summer and I did a good month of research before even considering buying a bottle of anything. Go for something natural, that is FDA approved, that’s been on the market for awhile so there’s plenty of reviews and other information from non-partisan entities who will tell you the truth. Also talk with your doctor about whether it is safe for you to take something. Our bodies are all different and will have different reactions to things, even for substances deemed safe.

    A lot of people get caught up in the hype of all the “success stories” and immediately think a supplement will work for them because it worked for others. That’s ort of mindless behavior can put you in harm’s way.

    • The Comment

      I Iove gimmicks and am an avid GNC pill popper. I used oxyElite Pro for a very long time. This story has scared the daylights out of me. It did work. It enhanced my mood, helped me w/my workouts and gave me a kickstart to my day. But it is not worth dying for.

  • LaNubiana

    It is really scary actually. I was surprised to learn during my research time in the US that the average American takes 11 priscription drugs at any given day. That is a crazy number!! The reality is the responsibility is on the individual when it comes to consumption. As individuals, if we expect our government (they are all corrupt) to think on our behalf, we are highly mistaking. The FDA, USDA and all is not going to look out for you hence the continuous rise of pharmaceutical recalls.

    The fact of the matter is that we have to stop and look into our daily intake of everything. Food, drinks, ,medication, etc…

    You got a headache? Instead of tylenol make youself herbal tea. Instead of supplements, eat natural high in content foods and plenty of fruits. If your body is aching, instead do ibuprofen, take an Epsom salt bath. Take care of your body and stay chemical free.

  • Phyllis

    So my 24 yr old son has A Vascular nervous. We believe it may be caused by taking this product. He had one surgery and my need more which he can’t afford. He’s since found two more people with the same thing who also took this product. It caused the blood vessel’s that supply the top of the leg bone to die causing the bone yo soften and break away. He took it as a workout supplement. Now he can barely walk or play his drums. I called the FDA never returned my call

  • OxyElite Pro has been recalled due to the deaths of 12 people and countless sick individuals from hepatitis.