Stimulant Safety

by Christine Hronec

Stimulants are drugs that act upon the central nervous system to increase awareness, raise alertness, improve concentration, and boost energy. Legal stimulants differ from region to region based on the individual laws and policies of local government. Generally speaking, in the United States, legal stimulants include a range of drugs such as nicotine, caffeine and certain prescription amphetamines.

The story of synthetic stimulants popping up in dietary supplements is not new. The first step in determining whether your dietary supplement product contains one or more stimulants is to look at the Supplement Facts panel on the label. Chemicals with the suffix “-ine” are classified as “amines,” indicating a group of organic compounds of nitrogen in which one or more hydrogen atoms have been replaced by one or more hydrocarbon radicals. A lot of stimulant names end in “ine,” such as caffeine, synephrine, and yohimbine. It should also be cautioned that an entire class of hallucinogenic chemicals known as amphetamines also end in “-ine”. Drugs in the class of amphetamines, or substituted amphetamines, are addictive, mood-altering drugs that are used illegally as stimulants and legally as prescription drugs to treat children with ADD and adults with narcolepsy. Unfortunately amphetamine-like substances are still being found in commonly used dietary supplements with growing abundance. End users may be unknowingly using these ingredients because products may be labeled with other synonymous chemical names.

This chart summarizes the top 16 most common stimulants and addresses what they are, other names they are commonly referred to as, typical dosages, lethal dosages, is they are legal stimulants, if they are legal with a prescription, and lastly whether or not they are considered safe.

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