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Dimethylaminuethanol -- or DMAE -- is a precursor of a neurotransmitter, acethylcholine, and is naturally produced by the human brain. There are several DMAE products on the market, targeted for either oral or topical use. The oral products are used as memory-enhancing supplements, whereas the topical creams are used to reduce the appearance of skin aging.

Memory Enhancer

DMAE oral supplements cost around $4 to $20 for a 100-capsule bottle as of February 2011, and there are several brands to choose from. DMAE is suggested to increase brain's choline supply and therefore, optimize the acethylcholine neurotransmitter levels. Studies published in several scientific journals showed that DMAE use improves memory, enhances brain activity, increases energy levels and reduces depression. People with attention deficit disorder, dementia, autism and depression might benefit of DMAE supplements.

Skin Care

DMAE is also used in skin-care products. Clinical studies published in several scientific journals have shown that DMAE reduces fine wrinkles, under-eye dark circles and increases skin firmness. DMAE is one of the only products on the market that produces skin tightening and reduces facial sag. There are several skin-care companies that sell DMAE creams. A small jar costs between $10 to $30 as of February 2011, and can be bought from online or from popular stores.

Side Effects of Oral Supplements

According to studies done by Haug, et. al. and Sergio, DMAE supplements cause headaches, insomnia, and muscle tension. However, these symptoms usually disappear when the dosage is reduced. Start with a low dose and slowly increase it to the therapeutic levels to prevent side effects. According to study done by Fisman, et. al., DMAE might also cause retardation, increase confusion and elevate blood-pressure in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Due to the stimulatory nature of DMAE, people with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorder and epilepsy should not use DMAE supplements.

Side Effects of Skin Care Products

Topical DMAE has been used in skin care products for over 10 years and there has not been any major reports of skin damage. There is some evidence that DMAE causes damage to skin cells grown in culture. However, low levels of skin damage are a common effect of skin-care products, like creams containing alpha-hydroxy acid and chemical peels. The healing process to the damage may improve the structure of the skin and make it appear younger.