DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) is a compound that is promoted to boost brainpower, improve memory and reduce the signs of skin aging.
It is found in some nootropics.
Evidence that DMAE actually influences acetylcholine levels, however, is contradictory. While some studies show its efficacy, others show no improvement.
DMAE is a compound that is naturally produced in small amounts in the brain that is a precursor of choline, which in turn allows the brain to optimize the production of acetylcholine — the neurotransmitter that is believed to play a role in learning and memory (1). Research has revealed that acetylcholine levels are lower in Alzheimer’s patients.
Research is underway to determine if DMAE supplementation can boost levels of acetylcholine and thereby, improve symptoms of the neurodegenerative disease.
DMAE may play a role in reducing memory deficits in patients with cognitive impairment. In one study, a combination of DMAE and pyroglutamic acid (DMAE p-Glu) was shown to have the potential to improve memory deficits in rats and humans with cognitive impairment.
In a preclinical study, DMAE p-Glu was evaluated in rats on performance in the Morris water maze test of spatial memory, and on the deficit in passive avoidance behavior induced by scopolamine (a type of anticholinergic agent that blocks the activity of the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor).
In healthy young male subjects, the clinical study examined the effect of DMAE p-Glu on cognitive deficits induced by an intravenous injection of scopolamine.
Results revealed that in the rats, DMAE p-Glu increased the extracellular levels of choline and acetylcholine, improved performance in a test of spatial memory and reduced scopolamine-induced memory deficit in passive avoidance behavior.
In humans, clinical study results showed that DMAE p-Glu produced a significant positive effect on scores in the Buschke memory test, as well as a slight but significant difference on choice reaction time (1).
The results indicate that DMAE p-Glu might be effective in reducing memory deficits in patients with cognitive impairment.
In a 2012 study, however, researchers assessing the clinical efficacy and safety of DMAE pyroglutamate in patients with an early form Alzheimer’s disease were not met with favorable results.
Two hundred forty two patients with a diagnosis of early Alzheimer’s were randomized to receive either 1500 mg of DMAE pyroglutamate or placebo once a day for 24 weeks. Changes in global cognitive functioning were assessed using the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale-Cognitive Subscale. Standardized measures of memory, executive function, attention, functional capacity and apathy were also evaluated.
Although there was a minor response to treatment around week 12, researchers concluded that there were no statistically significant differences in cognitive function between DMAE pyroglutamate and placebo (2).
DMAE has antioxidant properties. There is much evidence confirming that an overload of free radicals in the body leads to a process called oxidative stress. This process plays a role in the development of certain cancers, autoimmune disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative and other diseases (3).
Some studies reveal that DMAE has the ability to protect cellular targets against free radical damage (4).
DMAE improves skin quality and signs of aging. The global anti-aging market is a multi-billion dollar industry, estimated to reach $331.41 billion by 2021 (5). In the ongoing search for the fountain of youth, scientists have found DMAE to be a viable contender.
The American Journal of Clinical Dermatology published their findings on the role of dimethylaminoethanol in cosmetic dermatology. In a randomized clinical study, a 3 percent DMAE facial gel that was applied daily for 16 weeks was shown to be safe and efficacious.
Areas of improvement included the appearance of coarse wrinkles, under-eye dark circles, nasolabial folds, sagging neck skin, and neck firmness and the overall appearance of aging skin, finding itself in many wrinkle creams.
These effects did not regress during a two-week cessation of application and it was found to be well tolerated, with no redness, peeling, dryness, itching, burning or stinging.
An open-label extension of the trial showed that the long-term application of DMAE gel for up to one year was associated with a good safety profile.
In addition to improving the appearance of aging skin, topical application of DMEA in in vitro studies indicates that it is a moderately active anti-inflammatory agent.
Studies are needed to evaluate the efficacy of DMAE compared with other skin-care regimens (such as topical antioxidant creams, alpha-hydroxy acids and other skincare treatments) (6).
When taken orally, DMEA may cause headache, drowsiness, insomnia, vivid dreams, confusion, depression, increased blood pressure, an increase in schizophrenia symptoms, constipation and unwanted movements of the face and mouth (7).
Due to the stimulatory nature of DMAE, people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder and epilepsy should not use DMAE supplements.
Topical application of DMAE has not resulted in any major reports of skin reactions or damage.
Short-term studies have used doses of up to 1500 mg per day without major side effects.
Long-term and maximum safe doses for DMAE have not been established, so it is important to always follow the manufacturer’s suggested dosage and to check with your treating physician before use.
When used topically, follow the directions on the label for proper dosing and usage.
DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) is a compound that is promoted to boost brainpower, improve memory and to reduce the signs of skin aging. DMEA has been shown to optimize the production of acetylcholine — the neurotransmitter that is believed to play a role in learning and memory.
However, there is not complete agreement among the clinical studies that support its use for these purposes.
While one study showed that the combination treatment of DMAE might be effective in reducing memory deficits in patients with cognitive impairment, another study concluded that treatment of DMAE did not result in significant differences in cognitive function.
Larger, longer controlled studies are needed to assess changes in memory and cognition over time.
When it comes to improving signs of skin aging, DMAE has yielded positive results. Studies show its ability it improve the appearance of coarse wrinkles, under-eye dark circles, nasolabial folds, sagging neck skin, neck firmness and the overall appearance of aging skin.
It is well tolerated and does not result in peeling, dryness, itching, burning or stinging.