Researchers have stated that two years after U.S. health regulators discovered and banned an amphetamine-like stimulant in dietary supplements containing Acacia rigidula, products containing the substance still remain on the market.
Beta-methylphenylethylamine, or BMPEA is a stimulant that can be found in certain products that are advertised to contain Acacia rigidula, which is a shrub native to the state of Texas. BMPEA has been shown to raise blood pressure and heart rates in dogs and cats, but has not been studied in humans. It is classified as a doping agent by the World Anti-Doping Agency because it is closely related to amphetamine.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) backed study, which was published in the Drug Testing and Analysis journal, found BMPEA in 11 brands of Acacia rigidula supplements. These products that were tested were marketed for weight loss, athletic performance and to improve brain function.
Pieter Cohen, MD, assistant Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, and one of the members of the study, said, “While BMPEA’s health effects are not yet known, it could be dangerous, and the failure of the FDA to act regarding the substance is inexcusable. The FDA should immediately warn consumers about BMPEA and take aggressive enforcement action to eliminate BMPEA in dietary supplements. Additionally, physicians should continue to be vigilant in tracing BMPEA when receiving patient cases on toxicity obtained from weight loss and sports supplements.”
FDA has acted against BMPEA in the past. It banned the stimulant Ephedra after a decade-long struggle in 2004. It subsequently moved to eliminate supplements containing DMAA, a different stimulant also known as 1,3-dimethylamylamine, methylhexanamine or geranium extract. Even in Europe, authorities have stated that products containing Acacia rigidula could not be legally marketed since they have not been evaluated or authorized. Any company that wants to sell a product containing Acacia rigidula in Europe must demonstrate that it does not present a risk to, or mislead, the consumer.