The FDA has a warning for those using weight loss supplements: Avoid any diet pills that contain BMPEA. BMPEA or beta-methylphenethylamine is something of a "super caffeine," but FDA researchers warn that the substance is actually closely related to amphetamine.
According to Forbes, the FDA sent out a warning on Thursday to five (other reports say eight) different companies, demanding that they immediately stop selling products that contain BMPEA. This reportedly includes "weight loss, energy enhancement, and workout supplements."
The reason that the FDA wants consumers to steer clear of any supplements containing substance is it can raise your heart rate to dangerous levels, possibly doing permanent damage to the heart.
"It can change the way your heart monitors its own beating by overriding the safety mechanisms our bodies have in place to manage it," said Allison Dehring-Anderson, a Clinical Assistant Professor at the Medical Center College of Pharmacy at the University of Nebraska.
"At the very least you can think of BMPEA as super caffeine... but that's really underestimating the danger it poses."
Weight loss supplement companies were able to get away with selling items containing such substances because they claimed that their BMPEA ingredient was originally taken from Acacia rigidula or blackbush. The shrub is reportedly native to the Southwestern United States and parts of Mexico. However, the FDA tested blackbush samples from plants in Texas and Mexico and found no trace whatsoever of BMPEA.
"While BMPEA was listed as a dietary ingredient on the product labels, the substance does not meet the statutory definition of a dietary ingredient. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act defines a dietary ingredient as a vitamin; mineral; herb or other botanical; amino acid; dietary substance for use by man to supplement the diet by increasing the total dietary intake; or a concentrate, metabolite, constituent, extract, or combination of the preceding substances.
"BMPEA is none of these, rendering misbranded any products that declare BMPEA as a dietary supplement."
However, at least one medical expert feels that the FDA didn't go far enough — or even warn all the companies guilty of using the dangerous ingredient. Pieter Cohen, MD, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, published a scathing report that declared the FDA was aware of the potential dangers posed by BMPEA two years ago.
"Physicians should remain vigilant for patients presenting with toxicity from sports and weight-loss supplements as they might contain undisclosed stimulants, such as BMPEA."
Among companies thought to have been warned by the FDA about BMPEA are Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, Tribravus Enterprises, Train Naked Labs, Better Body Sports, and Human Evolution Supplements.
[Image Credit: Erich Ferdinand]