Hordenine is a naturally occurring substance found in several plants and fruits, including barley (from which its name originates: Hordeum vulgare), seaweeds, Aconitum tanguticum (Maxim.) Stapf, Senecio scandens, Coryphantha ramillosa, and Citrus aurantium (bitter orange). Hordenine also can be made in a laboratory (that is, as a synthetic chemical). Both natural and synthetic hordenine might promote stimulant effects.

Hordenine is currently on the FDA Dietary Supplement Ingredient Advisory List, as it does not appear to be a lawful dietary supplement ingredient. The safety of products containing this ingredient is unknown.

Hordenine is structurally similar to other natural phenethylamines (which act to stimulate the body), such as N-methyltyramine and synephrine, and appears to be structurally related to ephedrine. In fact, when ephedra-containing products were removed from the dietary supplement market due to safety concerns, other stimulant substances began to emerge as ingredients in dietary supplement products marketed for weight loss and athletic performance. Currently, hordenine is on the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Dietary Supplement Ingredient Advisory List because it does not appear to be a lawful dietary supplement ingredient, and there is “inadequate information to provide reasonable assurance [that hordenine] does not present a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury.”

What does the science say?

Hordenine is possibly unsafe when taken by mouth and might cause stimulant side effects such as rapid heart rate and high blood pressure. Most studies showing these effects were done with animals, and limited human studies are available to date. The latest studies analyzing products that list hordenine as an ingredient show that such products sometimes contain more hordenine than reported on product labels, while others can contain additional substances (either listed or not shown on the labels) not approved for use in dietary supplements.

How can I watch out for this ingredient?

FDA has notified companies selling hordenine-containing products to voluntarily recall those products. However, hordenine continues to show up in dietary supplement products. Although FDA guidelines require manufacturers to list common names of an ingredient, you should be aware of other names used so you can avoid hordenine products, at least until FDA has further investigated this ingredient. Some alternate names that might appear on a product label instead of “hordenine” include:

  • anhaline
  • eremursine
  • N,N-dimethyltyramine
  • peyocactine
  • p-hydroxy-N,N-dimethylphenethylamine
  • 4-[2-(Dimethylamino)ethyl]phenol
  • 2-(4-hydroxyphenyl)N,Ndimethyl-
  • ethylamine
  • cactine
  • ordenina
  • ordenine
  • N,N-Dimethyl-4-hydroxy-beta-phenethylamine

Bottom line

Hordenine is currently on the FDA Dietary Supplement Ingredient Advisory list because it is unclear whether it is a lawful dietary supplement ingredient. It is unknown how products containing hordenine might affect your readiness or health.


Published 20 May 2021


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