Some Questions And Facts About Geranium Extract
While the wild geranium is a pretty little flower, and is in itself not controversial, geranium extract, taken from the root of this flower is, and this extract has caused some problems, both medical and legal. Geranium extract is an herbal supplement that seems to warrant a bit of research before adding it to the list of supplements one feels could be of some benefit.
There are indeed some benefits to be gained from this supplement, and there are also some side effects that might be experienced. Some sources will tell you such side effects are rare to non-existent, others will tell you that, because of its possible side effects, the supplement should be banned. The problem lies in several areas.
First of all, as is the case with most herbal supplements, geranium extract has never been particularly well regulated, and there are few if any standards that apply to its production or marketing. Second, the supplement may prove beneficial, or at least not prove to be harmful when taken in low concentrations or dosages, but it could be quite harmful when taken in high concentrations or dosages. There appears to be precious little information as to what constitutes a safe dosage, or what underlying conditions could make a seemingly safe dosage unsafe. Those who manufacture the extract usually define what a dose is if the product is in liquid form, or what the strength of a tablet is. That may be sufficient, but still, there is no overall standard.
Finally there are the stories, true or false, that seem to accompany many herbal supplements, telling how the herb has been used for medicinal purposes since time immemorial, without any major problems being reported. There is usually some truth to these stories, but there are often some half-truths as well, together with an occasional fabrication or an outright lie.
The Dimethylamylamine Issue
The controversy surrounding this extract has to do with a chemical it purportedly contains. This chemical is a very powerful compound that goes by the name Dimethylamylamine, or DMAA. There is some question however as to whether or not this compound is actually present in the roots of the wild geranium. Some claim it is, and is therefore a natural product, while others claim DMAA is produced synthetically, and added to the extract during production of the supplement. DMAA is said to promote improved athletic performance. It is also said to accelerate weight loss, and to enhance mental clarity, while at the same time helping the immune system regulate hormone production. All of these various claims may be true, somewhat true, or not true at all.
A Doping Controversy May Be Unfolding
The controversy revolves around a word we hear more and more about these days. That word is doping. Dimethylamylamine is indeed a powerful compound, and it does indeed promote improved athletic performance, to the extent that the compound is banned in Canada. It is also an ingredient in a “party pill” that, when taken with coffee, or another substance rich in caffeine, can price a high which is characterized by various psychoactive effects.
The Federal Drug Administration has joined the party by warning a number of companies that produce pills, tablets, or supplements containing geranium oil, geranium extract, and/or DMAA, that they need to do a better job of producing evidence relative to the safety of their products. The FDA has taken a position that, if DMAA is one of the chemicals found in the wild geranium plant, the concentration would likely be too low to be considered to be a problem. On the other hand, if the DMAA is highly concentrated, or if it is produced synthetically, and then added to the product, which it apparently is in some instances, there is a genuine problem that needs to be worked.
Favored By Many Bodybuilders
Bodybuilders are noted for using various tonics and supplements to help build their muscles, strength, and stamina. There are a good many who use tonics containing DMAA, and find those tonics helpful in reaching certain bodybuilding goals. Presumably, the manufacturers of the products these bodybuilders use have spend the necessary time in determining what the recommended dosages should be, since there seem to have been few instances where problems have occurred, or have been reported.
Where Do We Go From Here?
As far as competitive sports is concerned, there are many who feel that DMAA falls into the category of a performance enhancing drug. Whereas the term may not be particularly scary as far as the amateur bodybuilder is concerned, it could be of great interest and possible concern to the competitive or professional athlete. It can be difficult to stop taking something that enables you to perform at your peak. If past history is any indication, we could be witnessing a long battle. It might be interesting to see where the boundary lines will eventually be drawn between taking natural geranium extract supplements, which may be beneficial and do not seem to be particularly harmful, and taking extracts or supplements where the concentration of DMAA has either been significantly increased by concentration, or synthetic DMAA has been added.