Nutrition Business Journal is calling it the next potential “nightmare” in dietary supplements. Frank Jaksch, CEO of the analytical testing lab ChromaDex, refers to it as “one scary beast.” Ed Wyszumiala, general manager of dietary supplement programs at NSF International, says it has him worried about consumer safety. It is methylhexaneamine (MHA), a compound developed by Eli Lilly more than 50 years ago as a nasal decongestant drug. Today, MHA is showing up in a growing number of pre-workout sports nutrition supplements and being labeled as a constituent of geranium oil. The ingredient was a popular topic of discussion during last week’s Nutracon and Natural Products Expo West/SupplyExpo.

Why the concern?

For Wyszumiala, one problem lies in the fact that extensive NSF analysis has shown that geranium oil—which is an approved food flavoring that is legal for use in dietary supplements—does not contain MHA. “This is not a supplement ingredient,” Wyszumiala told Manufacturers using MHA in their sports nutrition products say otherwise, but their main piece of evidence is one questionable study published by Guizhou University in China.

Wyszumiala said his team had the study translated from Chinese to English and does not put any credence in the research. According to NBJ, which investigated MHA/geranium oil topic in its February 2011 Sports Nutrition & Weight Loss issue, the Chinese paper contains “a possible typo” — hexanamide is referenced, not hexanamine—that “calls the entire relevancy of the data into question.”