DMAE (also known as "dimethylaminoethanol" and "dimethylethanolamine") is a natural compound sometimes used as an ingredient in skin-care products. Also sold in dietary supplement form, DMAE is essential to the production of acetylcholine (a type of chemical that helps nerve cells to transmit signals).
Why Do People Take It?
Since acetylcholine plays a key role in many brain functions (including memory), it's suggested that taking DMAE in supplement form may boost brain health by increasing acetylcholine levels. Some proponents claim that use of DMAE supplements may help prevent and/or treat Alzheimer's disease.
DMAE for Skin
DMAE cream, DMAE lotion, and other DMAE-based skin-care products are said to offer anti-aging benefits. While research on DMAE's effectiveness in skin-care is fairly limited, there's some evidence that using DMAE-based products may help improve skin.
For instance, a 2005 research review from the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology states that DMAE may help increase skin firmness and curb inflammation in skin. In their analysis of previously published research on the use of DMAE in skin care, the review's authors found that DMAE also may help reduce fine lines and improve the overall appearance of aging skin. What's more, the review's authors note, DMAE does not appear to cause adverse effects (such as peeling and dryness).
Health Benefits of DMAE
There is currently a lack of scientific research on the health effects of DMAE. One of the few available reports is a small study published in the European Journal of Medical Research in 2003.
For the study, 80 people (all of whom were known to have "borderline emotional disturbance") took either a placebo or a supplement containing vitamins, minerals, and DMAE every day for three months. Six weeks into the study, all participants were shown film excerpts with a range of emotional content. After another six weeks, participants were shown the film excerpts again.
Looking at data on the study participants, researchers found that those who took the vitamin/mineral/DMAE supplements had a greater increase in wellbeing than those who took the placebo. Members of the treatment group also appeared to experience improvements in mood and attention. Given these findings, the study's authors suggest that use of DMAE supplements may be of some benefit to people experience emotional disturbance.
There's no evidence that DMAE can treat depression, fight Alzheimer's disease, or improve sports performance.
Very little is known about the safety of long-term use of DMAE supplements. However there's some concern that DMAE may trigger certain side effects, including increased blood pressure, stomach upset, drowsiness, confusion, and irritability. If you're considering the use of DMAE supplements, talk to your doctor before starting your supplement regimen.
Where to Find It?
Widely available for purchase online, DMAE supplements are sold in many natural-food stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplements.
Also available online, DMAE creams, lotions, and other skin-care products are sold in some drugstores and specialty beauty shops.
Dimpfel W, Wedekind W, Keplinger I. "Efficacy of dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) containing vitamin-mineral drug combination on EEG patterns in the presence of different emotional states." Eur J Med Res. 2003 May 30;8(5):183-91.M
Grossman R. "The role of dimethylaminoethanol in cosmetic dermatology." Am J Clin Dermatol. 2005;6(1):39-47.