It is an easily defensible argument that this is a medical question rather than a chemistry one, however, I feel that it leans ever so slightly towards chemistry, and so I posted it here.

There is a "new" OTC stimulant being pushed around that shall remain unnamed so that this isn't flagged as an advertisement or anything. In looking at the list of ingredients, I don't see anything that would act as a stimulant anywhere in that list. Having said that, I'm not an expert.

So, I came to the experts. ;)

Here are the ingredients according to the bottle:


Just to clarify, the heart of this question is "Which ingredient is the stimulant?"

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ There appear to be multiple stimulants. 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine is a fancy name for caffeine. Synephrine is a sympathomimetic that is a common ingredient in, e.g., nasal decongestants due to the vasoconstriction produced as a side-effect of adrenergic activation. N,N-dimethyl-4-hydroxyphenylethylamine is unfamiliar to me, but appears to be a structural analog of tyramine, which is known to have mild stimulant effects (and is potentially lethal in high doses when combined with MAOIs). Beta-phenethylamine is an endogenous neurotransmitter that has no effect when orally ingested. $\endgroup$
    – Greg E.
    Jul 9 '14 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ My suspicion is that most of the stimulant effects are the results of caffeine content, and secondarily possibly synephrine. The addition of the other ingredients strikes me as dubious at best. $\endgroup$
    – Greg E.
    Jul 9 '14 at 14:57
  • $\begingroup$ @GregE. I'd say that that would make a great answer. $\endgroup$
    – jonsca
    Jul 9 '14 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ @GregE. Please submit an answer based on you comments so that I may mark it as correct. $\endgroup$
    – Soviero
    Jul 12 '14 at 23:35

If you google Schizandrol A ( 1,2,3,10,11,12-hexamethoxy-6,7-dimethyl-5,6,7,8-tetrahydrodibenzo[a,c]cycloocten-6-ol, here's a link to a picture of the structure) you find that it is an herb capable of curing just about anything. If you poke around a little deeper, you find two repetitive themes 1) it increases focus and 2) synergistically enhances the effect of other chemicals ingested along with it. You also note this herb has caught the attention of the bodybuilding community. The lifters use terms like "pump and rush", "being on another planet", etc. Apparently it can take focus to a whole new level. From what I read it looks like it's always ingested with other stuff so it's hard to separate out what's what. My guess is that all the ingredients in the bottle come into play and the effect they have together, particularly with the Schizandrol A present, is much greater than any ingredient alone.


There actually appear to be multiple stimulants in this formulation:

  • 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine is one systematic chemical name for caffeine.
  • Synephrine is a sympathomimetic drug, which is a common ingredient in various OTC medicines, where it finds use as, e.g., a nasal decongestant due to the vasoconstriction produced as a side-effect of adrenergic activation. If you examine its molecular structure, you'll see that it's closely related to phenethylamine, and many (if not most) phenethylamine derivatives and structural analogs exhibit stimulant effects. Notable examples include: amphetamine, phentermine, clenbuterol, phenelzine, and various others. These substituted phenethylamines are an important class of drugs and exert a diverse variety of actions; some are stimulants, others anorectics, others decongestants, yet others antidepressants, etc.
  • N,N-dimethyl-4-hydroxyphenylethylamine was formerly unfamiliar to me, but it appears to be a structural analog of tyramine, which is a naturally occurring amine present in a variety of foodstuffs. Tyramine is known to have mild stimulant effects itself, and is notorious for being potentially lethal in high doses if combined with an MAOI due to its hypertensive (blood-pressure raising) action.
  • Beta-phenethylamine is an endogenous neurotransmitter within the human nervous system. It exerts a stimulant effect, but it typically has no effect when orally ingested because it is rapidly metabolized before it can be absorbed. Note that this is the same compound as plain "phenethylamine" (described above).
  • Schizandrol A was also unfamiliar to me. There is at least one animal study indicating possible CNS effects, though how this translates to humans is unclear, and I wasn't able to find any clinical studies or reputable sources reporting on effects on human subjects.

In my estimation, the stimulant effects are probably prominently caused by the caffeine content of the formulation, with synephrine having secondary importance. Beta-phenethylamine in particular is unlikely to have any activity, due to its near total metabolism prior to reaching systemic circulation. As for N,N-dimethyl-4-hydroxyphenylethylamine and Schizandrol A, there doesn't appear to be enough literature on human effects to draw any conclusions, so their inclusion strikes me as dubious. They may or may not be significant in their action.


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