What is aegeline and why is it a problem?


I recently heard that certain dietary supplement products were causing liver damage because of a specific ingredient, aegeline. What is aegeline and why is it a problem?

OPSS Answer

Aegeline is a new ingredient being added to dietary supplements; it can also appear on a product label as N-[2-hydroxy-2(4-methoxyphenyl) ethyl]-3-phenyl-2-propenamide. Aegeline is a compound extracted from Aegle marmelos (bael), a plant that has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine. Although some evidence from animal studies suggests that aegeline might lower blood sugar, this potential effect has never been studied in humans. This compound has been used as an ingredient in weight-loss aid products too, but again there is no evidence that it is effective for weight loss in humans.

Warfighters need to know a few things when considering whether to use a product that contains aegeline:

FDA recently issued an information update stating that FDA along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are investigating more that 50 cases of liver damage. FDA also issued a warning letter to a company marketing a dietary supplement that contains aegeline, because it is not currently recognized as a legitimate ingredient for dietary supplements.

Even though aegeline was originally extracted from plants, it is also created in the laboratory, so it is possible that the aegeline in dietary supplements is synthetic. In addition, the concentration of aegeline in dietary supplements is likely much higher than in nature, so aegeline’s “long history of use” in traditional medicine is not sufficient evidence for safety, a point FDA also made in its warning letter. Finally, because there is insufficient information about the safety of aegeline, it is not possible to predict side effects or drug interactions; however there is some reason to believe it could have adverse effects similar to some anti-diabetes medications. Until more is known about aegeline and the adverse events possibly associated with supplements that contain it, Warfighters should use caution before purchasing products with this ingredient. FDA warned consumers not to use two products with aegeline: OxyELITE Pro and VERSA-1. The manufacturer issued a recall of OxyELITE Pro, discontinued both products, and destroyed its warehouse stock.

FAQ updated 19 May 2014