Harvard Finds Amphetamine-Like Compound in Supplements

Harvard Finds Amphetamine-Like Compound in Supplements
Science & Medicine

Scientists from the Harvard Medical School have called on the FDA this week to alert the public about a substance showing up in certain categories of dietary supplements. Known as beta-methylphenylethylamine (BMPEA) this organic compound is a positional isomer of the class of drugs known as amphetamines. It was first isolated in the 1930’s, but its safety in humans has never been studied.

More than a year ago, the FDA first detected BMPEA in supplements containing Acacia rigidula, a perennial shrub known to aid weight loss. But in a highly uncharacteristic response, it failed to do anything about it. Usually it is the dangers of pharmaceutical drugs that are ignored by this rogue government agency, while supplement makers are routinely persecuted by it. BMPEA has been found in both diet and sports supplements.

Almost a year after the FDA’s discovery of BMPEA in supplements, the Harvard team analyzed 21 brands of supplements of Acacia rigidula to see if the substance has been removed. Using high-tech precision analysis instruments and methods, the group ran each of its Acacia rigidula samples three times and compared several paramaters of them against a reference standard.

They found that more than half of the brands tested still contained BMPEA. It was present in quantities that would provide anyone taking the recommended maximum daily serving with 93.7 mg of BMPEA per day, a substantial amount. This would be almost one-fifth of the total amount of a typical 500 mg dietary supplement capsule.

This finding prompted the team to push the FDA to initiate enforcement action to eliminate BMPEA in supplements.

“The FDA should immediately warn consumers about BMPEA and take aggressive enforcement to eliminate BMPEA in dietary supplements,” said the study author. “Physicians should remain vigilant for patients presenting with toxicity from sports and weight-loss supplements that might contain undisclosed stimulants, such as BMPEA.”

Acacia rigidula is a native plant growing in the region from southern Texas down to central America. It has a long history of use by Native Americans as an appetite suppressant and remedy for excessive weight gain and obesity.

It is comprised of about 40 chemical compounds, include amphetamines, dopamines, mescaline, nicotine tryptamines, and amides. It acts in the brain to trigger release of chemicals that stimulate beta-receptors to increase metabolic rate and fat decomposition as well as appetite suppression.

Confrontation with the FDA is not new at Harvard. In 2013, a prominent professor compiled a report slamming the agency for its failure to approve drugs in a honest and ethical manner. The report claimed the FDA “cannot be trusted,” as new drug approvals over the past three decades have produced nothing better than existing drugs already on the market.

In his report, Professor Donald W. Light provided solid evidence showing the FDA is a pay-for-play front group catering only to the pharmaceutical industry.