DMAE Benefits: Focus Sharpener | Learning Enhancer | ADHD Supplement
What is DMAE?
Dimethylaminoethanol bitrate, also known as DMAE or “deanol,” is an organic compound known as an amino alcohol. Deanol is one of the raw materials the body uses to make acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter that enables brain cells to communicate, and is notably tied to memory performance. Deanol is known for its interplay with choline, related to the B-complex vitamins, as it works to support robust synthesis of acetylcholine.
Some fatty fish supply deanol, but otherwise it is largely absent from the Standard Western Diet — suggesting supplementation may be advisable for anyone seeking its brain-supportive benefits.
- Neurotransmitter “Raw Material”; it is a nutritional precursor to acetylcholine, a critical brain chemical for sharp memory, new learning and clear thinking
- Brain Wave Modulator; it influences alpha and theta waves in a way that seems to encourage soothing feelings of relaxation while maintaining alertness
- Brain protective antioxidant; it helps neutralize the brain cell-damaging impact of free radicals generated by environmental toxins and emotional stress
- Brain cell “custodian”; it helps with the repair, clean-up and maintenance of brain cell membranes, supporting healthy overall brain function
What is DMAE good for?
DMAE is an all-around cognitive enhancer. It has been studied for helping with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which is one of its more popular uses. Dimethylaminoethanol bitrate is also used to support sharp focus and clear memory. While it is sometimes taken for Alzheimer’s, there is insufficient evidence to support this use.
Deanol’s biggest brain health benefit appears to be its role in the synthesis of acetylcholine. A neurotransmitter, acetylcholine enables brain cells to fire with electrical activity that jumps across synapses to enable the cell-to-cell communication that powers all aspects of cognition, including mental processing, memory and even mood.
Dimethylaminoethanol bitrate is also believed to help with the upkeep of brain cell membranes. This is important because brain cell membranes are far from static coverings; they are, in fact, highly active and functional structures that perform a variety of different tasks associated with healthy cognitive performance. Deanol is believed to help brain cell membranes retain their flexibility and fluidity, helping them stay supple and permeable for ideal mental performance.
As an antioxidant, deanol helps to defend brain cells against the age-accelerating effects of free radicals. It also has a somewhat elusive benefit for cognition: It seems to have a “settling” effect on the brain’s alpha and theta waves which has been linked to feelings of calm, clear-headed focus.
In one clinical study, researchers reported that “…DMAE can be interpreted to induce a psychophysiological [mind-body] state of better feeling of well-being on both levels of analysis: Mood and electrical pattern of brain activity in [study participants] with borderline emotional disturbance.”1
DMAE benefits for brain health may hold an intriguing duality: It appears to stimulate and sharpen attention while soothing and settling emotional distress.
First dimethylaminoethanol bitrate enhances acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that stimulates brain activity, priming and “firing” brain cells during cognitive processes like sitting in a classroom and learning or reaching far back in time and remembering. Next deanol appears to “settle” certain brainwaves that become over-active during times of emotional stress, leading to distraction.
- Did you know? Excessive alpha brainwave activity has been linked with ADHD in adults. Since dimethylaminoethanol bitrate has been shown to modulate alpha waves, this may be a key biological activity behind its reputation as an ADHD supplement.
DMAE Research: A “Brainwave” Supplement
One study that included 80 participants examined how deanol might influence the brain’s wavelength energy during and after videos showing materials designed to create emotional disturbance. Subjects were shown videos before supplementation, after 6 weeks of daily DMAE supplements, and once more after 12 weeks of supplements. At study’s end:
- Researchers reported Dimethylaminoethanol bitrate supplementation was associated with a pattern of significantly lower alpha and theta brainwaves in response to the emotionally disturbing videos. Lower alpha and theta waves are associated with better focus and increased attention. Researchers also reported that the deanol group was found to have a better self-reported mood and a more stable and desirable pattern of brain electrical activity.
While research may not be able to conclusively prove deanol’s ultimate effects to the end user, research seems to suggest it may be an ideal supplement for students of all age groups — it may ease pressures and anxieties, sharpen focus and increase attention span… all while promoting a positive mindset and feelings of well-being. In other words, it may create an ideal emotional state for studying, retaining knowledge and testing well. While unproven, deanol as a nutritional supplement may also be part of a growing movement to find complementary and holistic lifestyle changes that may help with ADHD.
DMAE Supplements Use
DMAE supplements are often presented as dimethylaminoethanol bitartrate in capsule, tablet or liquid form. It is sometimes combined with other neuronutrients, including ginkgo biloba and acetyl-l carnitine. When used externally, the nutrient is available as a cream, serum or liquid. In these topical varieties, deanol may be combined with other skin-supportive anti-aging compounds, including CoQ-10, ALA (alpha lipoic acid) and vitamin C.
Before taking this neuronutrient or any other nutritional supplement, consult with your health care professional. DMAE dosage in tablets or capsules are typically in the range of 100 to 350 mg.
DMAE Side Effects
This compound is not typically associated with side effects when taken in moderate amounts. Headache, drowsiness and insomnia are among the possible DMAE side effects linked to high intake. Not enough is known about the nutrient’s effects on breastfeeding or pregnant women, so supplementation with the compound should be avoided in these populations.