Sports, weight loss supplements found to contain multiple stimulants

In 2004, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) concluded that a substance known as isopropyloctopamine—also called deterenol—did not qualify as a dietary ingredient in supplements. Yet several studies have identified the presence of deterenol in over-the-counter supplements, and the ingredient was a substance contained in a food supplement linked to such serious adverse events as agitation, chest pain and cardiac arrest in The Netherlands.

Products analyzed by the researchers and purchased online were marketed as either weight loss or sports/energy supplements.

A new study found that as recently as 2018, several supplements available on the internet contained multiple stimulants, including deterenol. In an analysis of 17 brands of supplements containing deterenol or one of its synonyms, researchers discovered eight brands contained more than one prohibited stimulant.

Seven stimulants (i.e., 1,3-DMAA, 1,4-DMAA, 1,3-DMBA, BMPEA, higenamine, oxilofrine and octodrine) have previously been subject to FDA regulatory actions, including product seizures, warning letters and public notices. 

“These hidden stimulant cocktails have never been tested in humans and their safety is unknown,” said John Travis, senior researcher at NSF International, in a press release. “You never want to find unlabeled ingredients in supplements, but it is especially concerning to find these strange brews of experimental stimulants in products that are readily available in the United States.”