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Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
May 04, 2021
2 min read

Some weight loss, sports supplements contain potentially harmful stimulants

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Some weight loss and sports supplements sold in the United States that listed deterenol as an ingredient also contained “prohibited” and possibly dangerous stimulants, researchers wrote in Clinical Toxicology.

“These hidden stimulant cocktails have never been tested in humans and their safety is unknown,” John Travis, a senior researcher at NSF International, a product testing and inspection organization based in Michigan, said in a press release.

The quote is: These hidden stimulant cocktails have never been tested in humans and their safety is unknown.” The source of the quote is John Travis.

Supplements with deterenol are not approved for human consumption in the United States, according to the release. Use of deternol use may cause nausea, vomiting, sweating, agitation, palpitations, chest pain and cardiac arrest. Travis told Healio Primary Care that patients with pre-existing conditions such as heart disease or hypotension “may be more susceptible” to adverse events because they “may take medicines that have undesirable effects when combined with deterenol.”

“It’s been reported that people who are desperate to lose weight are more likely to take risks,” Travis continued. “Those behaviors could include consuming multiple products with multiple ingredients that have sympathomimetic effects — creating a stacking effect and placing them at greater risk of adverse events.”

There have been several reports of adverse events stemming from deterenol in the Netherlands, Travis continued.

“Upon further investigation, we noted that a new dietary ingredient [application] had been submitted to the FDA but was subsequently rejected,” he said. “These two facts led us to this study.”

The researchers purchased 17 products with labels listing deterenol, isopropylnorsynephrine or isopropyloctopamine: 10 Seconds to Launch and Deep 6 Pro (Avenger Performance Nutrition); Cannibal Ferox and Cannibal Riot (Chaos and Pain); Edge of Insanity (Psycho Pharma); Fastin (Hi-Tech); LipoTherm and N'Gorge NOS Extreme (ALR Industries); Oxy Lean Elite and multiple flavors of Old Jack Extreme (GenOne Laboratories); Optilean Plus (Kewlify); OxyXtreme (6 Rings); Shredded-AF (Steel); Thermal Black (Musclesport); Thermo Shock (SciLabs Nutrition) and multiple flavors of TURNITUP and Blue Ice (EPG). The contents of each product were analyzed by two different companies using two different spectrometry tools. When discrepancies between a label and a product’s contents were found, a third company conducted another spectrometric analysis.

Besides deterenol, other potentially harmful stimulants, not approved by the FDA, that were found in some of the products include 1,3-dimethylamylamine, 1,3-dimethylbutylamine, 1,4-dimethylamylamine, beta-methylphenylethylamine, higenamine, octodrine, oxilofrine and Vonedrine (phenpromethamine), according to the researchers. Travis and colleagues reported that four of the 17 products included two of these stimulants, two products contained three of the stimulants and two products contained four of the stimulants.

The researchers also reported that the recommended serving sizes of these stimulants varied, from 2.7 mg to 17 mg of deterenol; 1.3 mg to 20 mg of phenpromethamine; 5.7 mg to 92 mg of beta-methylphenylethylamine; 18 mg to 73 mg of octodrine; 18 mg to 55 mg of oxilofrine; 48 mg of higenamine; 17 mg of 1,3-dimethylamylamine; 1.8 mg to 6.6 mg of 1,3-dimethylbutylamine and 5.3 mg of 1,4-dimethylamylamine.

“We're urging clinicians to remain alert to the possibility that patients may be inadvertently exposed to experimental stimulants when consuming weight loss and sports supplements,” study coauthor Pieter Cohen, MD, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and internist at Cambridge Health Alliance, said in a press release. “These ingredients have no place in dietary supplements.”


Cohen PA, et al. Clin Toxicol (Phila). 2021;doi:10.1080/15563650.2021.1894333

NFS. Nine potentially harmful stimulants found in weight loss and sports supplements listing deterenol as ingredient. https://www.nsf.org/news/nine-potentially-harmful-stimulants-found-weight-loss-sports-supplements-listing-deterenol-ingredient. Accessed April 23, 2021.