UPDATE 2015: The FDA has BANNED AMP CITRATE! They have sent 13 Warning Letters to companies selling AMP Citrate / DMBA. The warning letters are below.
If you’ve been tuned into sports supplements, you’ve possibly heard of an ingredient named AMP citrate (also known as “DMBA”) added to several fat burners and pre-workout supplements between 2014 and 2015.
This stimulant was nicknamed as a “lighter” version of its predecessors (which have also been banned from dietary supplements in the U.S.), and quickly made waves in the sports nutrition industry. Reported by some as one of the “best workout stimulants ever”, it’s now nowhere to be found, due to the FDA’s actions described below.
This article details some of the history of AMP citrate, and briefly describes the molecule, which is not legal per 1994 DSHEA, the prevailing law of the land for the dietary supplement industry.
The 2015 Ban / FDA Warning Letters
On April 24, 2015, the FDA sent warning letters to thirteen manufacturers of AMP citrate products. They can be seen below:
- 1ViZN LLC (Enriched Nutrition – Velocity) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444390.htm
- Beta Labs (Oxyphen XR Amp’d) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444381.htm
- Blackstone Labs (Angel Dust) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444383.htm
- Brand New Energy (Yellow Bullet AMP) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444412.htm
- Core Nutritionals (AMP Citrate) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444395.htm
- DSEO LLC (Hybrid Nutrition – HybriLean and PREAMP) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444406.htm
- Genomyx (EVOL) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444378.htm
- Iron Forged Nutrition (Contraband) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444374.htm
- Lecheek Nutrition (AMPilean and AMPitropin) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444567.htm
- Nutrex Research (Adipodex) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444414.htm
- Powder City (AMP Citrate) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444410.htm
- Prime Nutrition (PWO/STIM) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444386.htm
- RPM Nutrition (Red Rum SS) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444398.htm
- VPX Sports (Redline White Heat) – https://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/ucm444377.htm
The quick explanation behind these warning letters is that even if AMP Citrate was natural, the FDA argues that the ingredient was never used in the food supply before 1994, nor was a New Dietary Ingredient Notification (NDIN) ever filed for it.
So by the law of the land, it’s not legal — until someone proves it was in the food supply prior to 1994 or gets the NDIN paperwork done (which is unlikely to be approved at this point). The FDA is also claiming dispute with the synthetically manufactured nature of this ingredient.
Since these warning letters were issued, there was no pushback and AMP Citrate is completely off of the market.
Here’s our original write-up on DMBA:
A quick disclaimer
There’s still not much concrete information available about this ingredient, and much of the data presented here is anecdotal. If you’re conservative supplement user and need loads of research behind everything you take, AMP Citrate is not going to be for you.
But if you want to see what we’ve discovered so far, then read on::
So what is AMP Citrate?
Also known scientifically as “4-amino-2-methylpentane” (hence the AMP) and sometimes referred to as an herbal extract from “pouchong” or “Chinese white tea,” AMP citrate is a psychostimulatory compound that’s remarkably similar in structure to the now-infamous stimulant that was in Jack3d that Patrick Arnold originally brought back to the market. This comes as no surprise when you look at another scientific name for AMP: 1,3-dimethylbutylamine, or DMBA.
Commercially-available AMP is synthetic, but this is not anything new – vitamin C tablets are likely to be synthetic as well.
What does AMP do?
Extrapolating from its older and slightly better-known sibling, AMP is a stimulant purported to increase blood pressure and bloodflow along with helping focus, mood, and athletic performance — although the latter is somewhat dubious given the opposite behavior of related compounds. Similar stimulants’ long half-life of roughly 8 hours can likely be extended to its newer brother, as well, making AMP hard-hitting and long-lasting.
All of this analysis is contingent on AMP behaving similarly to them, of course, which is where we again run into the big problem: AMP on its own just isn’t very well-researched. User experiences confirm similar but milder effects, but this is anecdote, not data.
Nonetheless, going by the countless accounts of great workouts with fantastic energy and mood benefits, it’s pretty clear that AMP does deliver on its promises for many. This isn’t surprising – it’s essentially what many aliphatic amines do (an aliphatic amine is one which has no aromatic ring attached to the nitrogen, and often make for nice stimulant effect).
AMP Citrate Dosages
As explained by Natural Micron, an industrial producer of supplements and extracts, AMP comes in two popular forms:
- “AMP Citrate”, the most common, has a subtly sweet, lemonade-like taste, and is roughly 35% “active” by molecular mass. It goes best in powdered supplements that will be tasted.
- DMBA HCl, also gaining some prominence, has a more bitter, chemical taste, but is more than twice as potent as its tastier counterpart at 74% “active” by mass. It’s ideally suited for volume-limited applications like capsules.
Back in 2014, most users have anecdotally reported effectiveness in doses of 200-400mg of the citrate form, which was consistent with what many emerging products are using in their formulations.
This would correspond to a little under half of the HCl form, or roughly 95-190mg for DMBA HCl in a pill or tablet.
As always, users who experiment with stimulants should always start with low dosages, particularly when combined with other ingredients like caffeine, and individual tolerance should be carefully and progressively assessed. Those with existing medical conditions should be particularly careful, and it’s always recommended to consult with your doctor.
Is AMP safe? What are the downsides or side effects?
The lack of research done on this chemical makes it impossible to authoritatively say that it’s safe.
Although several shorter-term studies on similar stimulants found no evidence of negative health implications in otherwise healthy individuals,[4,5] the lack of long-term safety data along with some reports of it being linked to adverse effects that included heart attacks led regulatory agencies, including the FDA, to ban those substances in dietary and nutritional supplements.
Given that the bulk of our understanding at this time is that “AMP is a lot like its predecessor stimulant”, similar consideration should be given: if the FDA prohibition worries you, AMP should be altogether avoided.
Outside the vagaries of the available safety information, a very typical set of stimulant side effects is associated with too much AMP or overall combined stimulant use: jitters, nervousness, anxiety, cardiovascular issues, and a low-energy “crash” are all possibilities for misuse.
In comparing with its predecessor, many users have reported that the effects of AMP are somewhat less pronounced and less “harsh”, but similar in establishing rapid tolerance for regular stimulant consumers. Cross-tolerance with other compounds, resensitization, and the potential for physiological withdrawal are all not yet fully explored.
Errata: False AMP Citrate?
Oddly enough, the first product to claim to have pure AMP Citrate / DMBA was
Genomyx’s AMP Citrate, however, recent research has shown that there is ZERO DMBA inside.
Which leads us to wonder… what was in there, Genomyx?
Just how natural is this stuff?
Two Chinese research studies, which have to be translated to English, kind of demonstrate presence in nature, but neither study has been confirmed to American standards.
- One study (by Chen and Ou) claims to have found DMBA at a miniscule 0.012 ppm in Pouchung tea — as a degradant when storing it!
- The other study was analyzing essential oils from a flower named Coreopsis tinctoria, and claims to have found it as well – but there was no standard used to confirm its finding.
The point is, even if it is found in nature, these are such small amounts that it’d take 1000kg of Pouchong tea to just get 12mg of DMBA! This means that anything you’re buying is definitely synthetically-produced.
The USA Today Article
Meanwhile, Alison Young at the USA Today has penned a piece exploring the lack of research. She quotes Pieter Cohen, the author of the research cited above, saying,
“We want the FDA and we want the stores to immediately remove these products from store shelves”
— Pieter Cohen, Harvard Medical School
(Alison the same writer who exposed the criminal Driven Sports founder, Matt Cahill, in her excellently-done hatchet piece on the man.)
The FDA is aware, action is likely coming
In the USA Today article, the FDA made the following statement:
[The FDA] “is aware of concerns regarding DMBA/AMP Citrate and will consider taking regulatory action, as appropriate, to protect consumers.”
Besides the Cohen team, two senators and a supplement industry group also urged the FDA to take regulatory action.[10,11]
VPX Sports Disagrees, claims DSHEA Compliance and incredibility of Pieter Cohen
On October 17, 2014, VPX Sports has just published a blog post defending AMP and how it is DSHEA compliant due to it’s longtime availability in Pouchong Tea. He called out Cohen’s credibility, and attacked him for “unscientific and dramatic claims”.
The wildly-written post, penned by VPX’s CEO, Jack Owoc, concludes:
In conclusion – AMP is a naturally occurring constituent contained in the most consumed beverage on planet Earth which is tea. AMP is proven to be found in the Pouchung Tea by the extensive testing as previously described. AMP has been consumed in the food supply by humans for thousands of years and is 100% DSHEA compliant and legal.
–- Jack Owoc, VPX Sports CEO
For anyone who follows Jack Owoc and the Bang Energy Drinks he subsequently came out with, the entire article is a must-read!
GNC and Vitamin Shoppe Remove all AMP Citrate Products
After the USA Today article is that GNC and Vitamin Shoppe have removed all products containing these ingredients from their shelves and websites. GNC declined to comment, stating that they do not typically comment on product selection or availability.
What about Drug Tests? Are these products okay?
Drug-tested athletes are wise to never touch AMP Citrate or similar aliphatic amine stimulants. Listed as “4-Methylpentan-2-amine (1,3-dimethylbutylamine)”, it is banned by WADA.
Long story short: this compound was a flash in the pan, and is no longer anywhere on the market. There were some brief fireworks from Jack Owoc and his team at VPX Sports, but it has long since subsided.