Study Finds that Popular Dietary Supplement “Craze” Has Methamphetamine-Like Compounds
Last summer, USA Today investigated concerns over a dietary supplement called Craze, after learning that undisclosed amphetamine-like compounds were showing up in lab tests. Now, a newly-released study confirms the concern, and shows that the methamphetamine-like compound found in the dietary supplement is not an accident.
Craze is marketed as “performance fuel” that provides “the ultimate in pre-workout power.” Products reported on and tested included Craze pre-workout powder, and Detonate, a diet aid. Both are marketed as having all-natural ingredients.
A new study regarding the dietary supplement’s ingredients was published on Monday, October 14th, in Drug Testing and Analysis. The study’s authors purchased samples of the product from both American and European websites, as well as a major walk-in chain in the US. Two labs then took samples of the products and both identified, independently, the same compound: N,alpha-DEPEA.
“What’s particularly alarming about finding a completely new drug, in this case a close cousin of methamphetamine, is that we have no idea how it will affect the body,” said the lead study author Pieter Cohen, M.D., of the Harvard Medical School. “Will it be addictive? Will it stimulate the heart and increase the risk of heart attacks? It has never been studied in humans, so we don’t know.”
“These are basically brand-new drugs that are being designed in clandestine laboratories where there’s absolutely no guarantee of quality control,” Cohen told USA Today.
According to the label, the energizing element of the supplement comes from a plant, the dendrobium orchid. However, because dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, the actual chemical makeup of Craze could be anything. “It might be that manufacturers are not actually using the orchid at all,” Cohen said, “but rather using the name ‘dendrobium’ when actually placing pharmaceutical drugs into the supplement. It is very likely that some other supplements labeled as containing dendrobium contain this same new drug.”
Directions on the dietary supplement mean that users would ingest 35 mg of the methamphetamine-like compound in a single dose, meaning that the ingredient is intentional.
Because of the USA Today article last year, Wal-Mart and several online retailers have stopped carrying the dietary supplement. Two athletes were banned from competing last year after failing World Anti-Doping Agency tests. Cohen says that the FDA has been informed of the findings, but since that information was sent in in May, the FDA has taken no action. He says that the dietary supplement probably has mild euphoric effects, but he has never heard of anyone becoming addicted to it.
“It has never been studied in the human body,” Cohen said. “Yes, it might make you feel better or have you more pumped up in your workout, but the risks you might be putting your body under of heart attack and stroke are completely unknown.”
Marc Ullman, an attorney representing Driven Sports, the dietary supplement’s manufacturer, said in an interview that the company, “on the surface,” does not agree with the study finding. “We’re talking about some very complicated analytical work, and we haven’t had the opportunity to have our experts review the nature of the analytical testing being done and whether the methods were validated,” he said.
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