Synthetic geranium still raising industry red flags

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Gnc

'13-Dimethylamylamine' is listed on Jack3d's Supplement Facts panel
'13-Dimethylamylamine' is listed on Jack3d's Supplement Facts panel
An unauthorized synthetic form of geranium oil – known as 1.3-dimethylpentylamine – remains on-market in major-label dietary supplements, although a retailer crackdown has some “fringe” supplement manufacturers looking for other stimulants to illegally boost product efficacy.

One industry observer said with some retailers refusing to sell products containing 1.3-dimethylpentylamine, other unauthorized herbal extracts and their synthetic cousins are gaining prominence with unscrupulous supplement makers.

These include Salvinorin A (derived from from Salvia divinorum​), mitragynine (from Mitragyna speciosa​) and nuciferin. All tend to end in weight loss products or those aimed at the body building market. They are also used in 'herbal high' products.

Industry members are especially concerned that consumption of these potent stimulants may lead to serious injury or death as was the case with ephedra before it was banned by the FDA under the 1994 Dietary Supplements and Health Education Act (DSHEA) in 2003.

“Retailers seem to be clamping down on 1.3-dimethylpentylamine,”​ said one industry observer. “As a result everyone is desperately seeking the next 'jack me up' compound as the replacement.”

Despite that observation major retailers like GNC continue to freely sell products containing the ingredient, although it can be difficult to determine if they are geranium extracts or synthetically derived.

One product, called Jack3d, lists an ingredient called ‘13-Dimethylamylamine (Geranium [Stem])’ on the product’s webpage that also makes the claim: “This product produces an intense sensation of drive, focus, energy, motivation & awareness. In addition, it allows for rapid increases in strength, speed, power & endurance.”

That link can be found here.

A GNC spokesperson said product enquiries should be directed at the manufacturer, USP Labs, but that company was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

USP Labs’ own website page for Jack3d – found here​ – contained a disclaimer that references the ingredient's banned status with some sporting organizations : “…compounds such as caffeine, creatine & 1,3 dimethylamylamine (also known as methylhexanamine, 2-amino-4-methylhexane & 1,3-dimethylpentylamine – a natural constituent of the geranium flower) may not be allowed by your specific sports organization. It’s completely up to the user to get this and any dietary supplement cleared by their organization before using.”

Further information adds: “Geranium has a long history of being used for many purposes in the food supply. It contains a constituent that may provide a boost to your workouts & help you power through tough set after tough set – always ready to take on the next challenge.”

Increasing concern

Commenting on the subject of economically motivated adulteration (EMA), Mark Blumenthal, the founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council (ABC), said: There is increasing concern by some experts that there is significant intentional adulteration – not just contamination – usually inintentional – of numerous dietary ingredients for a variety of economic motivations.”

He said the ABC was working with the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia to produce a ‘Botanical Adulterants White Paper’ that will, “list known adulterants and analytical methods to detect them, in the hope of reducing some of this kind of fraud.”

It was expected to be published in the Summer or Fall.

Blumenthal noted that Salvinorin A is, “a traditional psychoactive plant which has become quite popular and controversial.”

A little after publication of this story, the GNC spokesperson added: "GNC strictly complies with all applicable statutes and regulations, and requires its vendors to represent and warrant that the products they sell do as well."

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The ongoing issue

Posted by Stephen Daniells,

Paul & Jen & others,

I have been following this ongoing debate with interest. Having just returned from ExpoWest/Supply Expo in Anaheim, I can confirm that many responsible people involved in this industry are taking the MHA/1,3-dimethylpentylamine issue incredibly seriously. There is a growing level of concern. You need only listen to these highly credible sources:
1. Anthony Almada, President and CEO of GENr8, Inc.

2. Ed Wyszumiala, General manager of Dietary supplements Programs for NSF International

Ed is not the source associated with Shane's article and I support his source's request for anonimity at this point.

Paul, you talk about 'vague rumors': I think the two interviews above show the potential seriousness of the issue, which is only now becoming apparent. More and more people are looking into this, and we will - as credible journalists - continue to follow this issue as it unfolds.

Stephen Daniells
Senior Editor

Report abuse


Posted by Paul Crane,


So in essence what you're telling me is this; you're a credible journalist, you've worked in the industry for years and you know these insiders. I'm therefore expected to suppress any skeptical instincts I may have (such as
the industry's possible self-serving interests) and accept your word as gospel.

Except that you've demonstrated absolutely zero willingness to perform any real "journalism" here; in reality, you've done nothing more than uncritically pass along the opinions and judgments of others.

For example, take this statement...

"One industry observer said with some retailers refusing to sell products containing

The logical question would be, "which retailers?"

GNC continues to sell them. As does online mega-retailer I personally
do not know of any major retailers who've refused to stock products containing 1,3-dimethylpentylamine.

In my experience, retailers don't stop selling extremely popular, high margin products when they have no incentive to do so.

So which ones?

Your article claims, "unauthorized herbal extracts and their synthetic cousins are gaining prominence with unscrupulous supplement makers."

For the moment, I'll concede your point about the need for anonymity. But uncritical acceptance is another matter. Your third party tester should be able to make a positive claim to these ingredients' presence in tested supplements. "Gaining prominence?" Can you get any more ambiguous than that?"

And later you state, in regards to these illegal ingredients...

"All tend to end in weight loss products or those aimed at the body building market."


That's journalism?

You challenge both myself and Skip Tolliver on the grounds that there is no NDI for "synthetic geranium extracts", yet you haven't revealed whether or not your anonymous tester was able to determine a synthetic version was used in the products allegedly tested.

And for the record, I never said 1,3-dimethylpentylamine was "authorized." What I said was that it was "not illegal." Considering such products have been openly advertised and sold since 2006 and never been subject to any enforcement action - and you have provided no evidence synthetic DMAA is being used - it's reasonable to assume that 1,3-dimethylpentylamine
remains DSHEA complaint.

Regarding your comment to me...

""We would be interested to know more about your contaminants and GMP testing procedures, that could even form the basis of a story that may go some way to refuting some of the allegations given air in this story."

Shane, as you well know (I'm sure you actually performed some "journalism" and looked us up) we're not in the business of verifying the presence/absence of adulterants or the analyzing whether the amounts of various ingredients meet label claims... there are other organizations that do this, and do it well (Consumer Labs, for example). Rather, does something that the industry definitely does NOT do - engage in direct consumer outreach and help readers evaluate (often confusing) ingredients & marketing claims for branded products. As such we look to (what ought to be) reliable industry sources such as for factual information that we can pass on to our readers.

And, since the subject concerns weight loss and bodybuilding supplements (our main niche), it's extremely frustrating to be reading "vague rumors" being passed on under the guise of serious journalism.

All the best,

Paul Crane

Report abuse


Posted by Shane Starling,

Dear Paul,

You write, "In other words, unsubstantiated comments like yours lack credibility" because in this story I don't name the source of my information.

Ideally a journalist will always name his sources, but in some circumstances, he/she cannot for varying reasons, at which point he/she must make make a judgment call, along with his/her colleagues, about whether the information can be trusted, and what purpose will be served by publishing it.
I have been writing about the US supplements market for more than 10 years and know many people working in the industry, from suppliers to manufacturers.
In this case the source was neither, but a third party product tester that alerted us about these substances after conducting unofficial testing of spiked DS products.
As I said in a previous response to Jen, the industry is concerned about this activity, as any responsible industry would be about the potential for injury or harm from the use of non-authorized substances, not to mention the public image problem that could spring from such events, if and when such stories reach the mainstream press, which, I will add, we are not.
Equally, it is heartening to know that you are raising few of these red flags in your role as webmaster at We would be interested to know more about your contaminants and GMP testing procedures, that could even form the basis of a story that may go some way to refuting some of the allegations given air in this story.
Finally, in regard to synthetic geranium extracts like 1-3 Dimethylamine, on what grounds do you base your statement that it is authorized? For the life of me, I can't find an NDI/ODI for it, although it must be said the FDA has as yet neither confirmed or denied whether one exists.

Yours Faithfully,

Shane Starling

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