Questions about the chemistry of dendrobium extract
On the label of the Craze product, a number of chemicals are listed as being part of Dendrobex, Driven Sports’ branded dendrobium extract. These include dendrobine, dendroxine, dendromine and three variations of phenylethylamines. It’s these last three that give some industry experts pause. “Show me the paper that states that the phenylethylamines are there in any amounts (in dendrobium) beyond a hundreth of a percent,”said Anthony Almada, CEO of Genr8 and an expert on adulteration issues. “The obligation is for them to show from an independent lab that all the things in there are actually from the orchid,” Almada said. “I have not seen any literature that describes PEAs (phenylethylamines) occurring in dendrobium. I have done a pretty deep search back to the 1920s.” James Neal-Kababick
, director of Oregon-based Flora Research Laboratories, has been testing dendrobium extracts recently (not the Dendrobex ingredient from Driven Sports).
“When we started looking at markers [to use in the tests], the dendrobine alkaloids are reported, and Lilly actually researched these back in 1935, so they have a long history,” he said. “But when you look at what’s on the market today, the products are being standardized to B-phenylethylamines,” Neal-Kababick said. He added that when he ran phytoforensic tests on the dendrobium extracts he had in his lab, “we found hits for B-phenylethylamines that appeared to be pharmaceuticals.”
“There are papers on the alkaloid composition of dendrobium and there are quite a few alkaloids that are indentified there. Dendrobine is one of them,” Neal-Kababick said. “I have not been able to find that the phenylethylamines are native to dendrobium."
Regardless of what Almada and Neal-Kababick say they have found in the research and testing other dendrobium extracts, Cahill stands behind his product.
“All of the raw materials used in Craze are laboratory tested for identity as required by GMPs by FDA-accredited labs,” Cahill said. “The dendrobium extract we use is a natural plant extract, not of synthetic origin.” ODI or NDI?
Leaving aside the precise chemical composition of dendrobium extract, the question remains about whether the ingredient is an ODI, or might fall into the New Dietary Ingredient
category, one of the problems with DMAA that FDA cited in its warning letters. As mentioned above, dendrobium does have a history of use in China and is cited in some North American sources. But sales, not citations, are what matter when determining ODI status, according to the FDA.
“Listing in the UNPA combined ODI list and/or the AHPA Herbs of Commerce
(second edition) is not actual proof of ODI status from FDA's perspective— just a proposed basis for such from an industry perspective,” said Mark Blumenthal, executive director of the American Botanical Council. “I am not aware of any records showing it was traded as a food or dietary supplement in the US prior to Oct. 15, 1994, but then I have not looked for any; that's the responsibility of the seller/marketer of the putative ODI.”