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November 2018

What is Higenamine?

Higenamine is showing up in a lot of pre-workout and weight loss supplements, including Thermogenesis Extreme and Monster Shred. Sometimes it's included on the product label, sometimes it's "disguised" under a less known synonym such as norcoclaurine and demethylcoclaurine, and sometimes it's not listed at all. This can be concerning for athletes, since it’s currently listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List 

So what is it? Higename is a chemical that works as a stimulant and seems to increase heart contractions and heart rate. It’s found in several plants, including aconite. Aconite has been shown to cause serious heart-related side effects including arrhythmias and even death, possibly related to the higenamine content.

Tell patients to be cautious even if a small amount of higenamine is listed in a product. One recent study tested 24 different products listing higenamine on the label. None of the products listed an accurate amount of higenamine. Quantities ranged from undetectable amounts to about 62 mg per serving, which was 0% to 200% of what was actually listed on the label.

For more details, check out our recently updated monograph.

The information in this brief report is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions. Copyright © 2018 Natural Medicines Inc. Commercial distribution or reproduction prohibited. Natural Medicines is the leading provider of high-quality, evidence-based, clinically-relevant information on natural medicine, dietary supplements, herbs, vitamins, minerals, functional foods, diets, complementary practices, CAM modalities, exercises and medical conditions. Monograph sections include interactions with herbs, drugs, foods and labs, contraindications, depletions, dosing, toxicology, adverse effects, pregnancy and lactation data, synonyms, safety and effectiveness.