The Health Benefits of DMAE

Dimethylaminoethanol is Thought to Improve Skin Health and Cognitive Function

DMAE (also known as dimethylaminoethanol, dimethylethanolamine, or Deanol) is a compound sometimes used as an ingredient in lotions, creams, and other skincare products. It is also available in dietary supplement form.

DMAE side effects
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Health Benefits

DMAE is hypothesized to increase the production of acetylcholine (a chemical that helps nerve cells transmit signals). Since acetylcholine plays a key role in many brain functions, such as learning and memory, proponents claim that taking DMAE in supplement form may boost brain health by raising acetylcholine levels.

Drugs that raise acetylcholine levels have been used to treat Alzheimer's disease, so some studies have looked at DMAE as a potential Alzheimer's treatment. So far, however, they've failed to show any promising results.

DMAE has been used somewhat to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but this use has only weak evidence behind it. A 2011 study on nutritional treatments stated that it "probably has a small effect."

In addition, DMAE has been looked at to boost athletic performance, elevate mood, and address symptoms of depression.

Currently, the effects of DMAE aren't scientifically well documented.

Skin Care Products

DMAE cream, lotion, and other skin-care products are said to offer anti-aging benefits by reducing the appearance of wrinkles, dark under-eye circles, and sagging neck skin. While research on DMAE's effectiveness is very limited, there's some evidence that using DMAE-based products may help improve skin.

For instance, a review published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology states that DMAE may help to increase skin firmness and curb inflammation in the skin. In their analysis of previously published research, the review's authors found that DMAE may help to lessen fine wrinkles on the forehead and around the eyes and improve the overall appearance of aging skin. What's more, the review's authors noted that DMAE did not appear to cause common side effects such as redness, peeling, and dryness.

In a preliminary study published in Pharmazie in 2009, topically applied DMAE led to increased thickness of the epidermal and dermal skin layers (in contrast, application of formulations without DMAE increased thickness of the epidermal layer only).

Cognitive Function

For a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease in 2012, 242 people (all of whom were diagnosed with early-stage Alzheimer's disease) took either a placebo or an oral DMAE extract known as V0191 every day for 24 weeks. At the study's end, there was no significant difference in cognitive function between the two groups.

The studies noted that there may have been several issues in the study design, including a relatively short treatment period, a lack of valid measures to assess the study participants, and issues with assessing changes in cognitive function over time.

There's also no evidence that oral DMAE supplements can treat depression or improve sports performance.

Possible Side Effects

Very little is known about the safety of DMAE supplements. However, there's some concern that DMAE may trigger certain side effects, including increased blood pressure, stomach upset, headaches, muscle tension, drowsiness, confusion, and irritability.

Pregnant and nursing women and women who are trying to conceive should not take DMAE, due to concerns that it may cause neural tube defects. Also, people with bipolar disorder or epilepsy shouldn't use DMAE.

When used topically, DMAE may cause skin irritation.

Dosage and Preparation

There is not enough scientific evidence to establish a safe or effective dose of DMAE.

There have been doses used in scientific studies. For example, in a study examining the athletic performance benefits of DMAE, study participants took 300 to 2000 mg of Deanol per day.

The safe and effective dose for you may depend on variables including your age, gender, and medical history. Speak with your healthcare provider to get personalized advice.

What to Look For

There currently isn't enough evidence to support the use of DMAE. If you're still considering trying it, be sure to follow guidelines provided by health experts to buy the best product for you.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that you look for a Supplement Facts label on the product that you buy. This label will contain vital information including the amount of active ingredients per serving, and other added ingredients (like fillers, binders, and flavorings).

Also, the organization suggests that you look for a product that contains a seal of approval from a third party organization that provides quality testing. These organizations include U.S. Pharmacopeia,, and NSF International. A seal of approval from one of these organizations does not guarantee the product's safety or effectiveness but it does provide assurance that the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.

For more help in protecting your skin, consider using products that contain argan oil, shea butter, or green tea. It's also essential to wear sunscreen to shield your skin from sun-related damage and reduce your risk of skin cancer.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is DMAE safe?

    One study on a DMAE skin care gel product concluded that it should be safe to use for most people. Participants applied a daily facial gel for 16 weeks and found that it tightened skin and reduced forehead lines and wrinkles. Some people experienced a few side effects like burning, dryness, itchiness, and stinging of the skin, but these were also reported by the placebo group.

  • Can DMAE be used for ADHD?

    DMAE supplements are sometimes used for ADHD treatment, but there is a lack of evidence that supports their effectiveness. As a whole, dietary supplements are not found to be effective treatment methods. Instead, ADHD can be managed with medication and behavioral therapy.

5 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Malanga G, Aguiar MB, Martinez HD, Puntarulo S. New insights on dimethylaminoethanol (DMAE) features as a free radical scavenger. Drug Metab Lett. 2012;6(1):54–59. doi:10.2174/187231212800229282

  2. Beth Israel Lahey Health, Winchester Hospital Health Library. DMAE.

  3. Hurt EA, Arnold LE, Lofthouse N. Dietary and nutritional treatments for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: current research support and recommendations for practitioners. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2011;13(5):323–332. doi:10.1007/s11920-011-0217-z

  4. Grossman R. The role of dimethylaminoethanol in cosmetic dermatology. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2005;6(1):39-47. doi:10.2165/00128071-200506010-00005

  5. Hurt, E.A., Arnold, L.E. & Lofthouse, N. Dietary and Nutritional Treatments for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Current Research Support and Recommendations for Practitioners. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2011;13:323. doi:10.1007/s11920-011-0217-z

Additional Reading

By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.