Dimethylglycine

Dimethylglycine

Dimethylglycine

Common Names

  • N
  • N-Dimethylglycine
  • (dimethylamino)acetic acid
  • N-methylsarcosine

For Patients & Caregivers

Dimethylglycine has not been used to treat cancer in humans.

Dimethylglycine is an amino acid found naturally in plant and animal cells and in many foods such as beans, cereal grains, and liver. It is used to improve energy, boost the immune system and to manage seizures and autism. There are some positive reports of DMG efficacy on the immune system. However, none of these claims have been confirmed in clinical trials.

  • Athletic-performance enhancer
    There is no scientific evidence to support this use.
  • Immunostimulant
    There is conflicting data about the efficacy of dimethylglycine in boosting the immune system.
  • Autism
    Previous studies produced mixed results. Large scale clinical trials are needed.
  • Epilepsy
    Single case reports describe decreased seizure frequency but larger studies have not documented any benefit.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder
    There is no scientific evidence to support this use.
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
    There is no scientific evidence to support this use.
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For Healthcare Professionals

N,N-dimethylglycine

Dimethylglycine (DMG) is a derivative of the amino acid glycine. It is found naturally in plant and animal cells and in certain foods such as beans, cereal grains, and liver. DMG is produced in cells during the metabolism of choline (1) and is considered an antioxidant and enhancer of oxygenation at the cellular level (2). It has been found that choline and DMG are present at higher levels in fetal than in maternal plasma, suggesting that choline provides glycine via DMG for glutathione synthesis in fetal development (3). Plasma DMG levels have also been found to be lower in children with cystic fibrosis than in healthy children (4). DMG has purported use in enhancement of the immune system, stimulation of neurological functions, management of autism and epilepsy (1) (5) (6). Some studies have shown that DMG may help enhance both humoral and cell-mediated immune responses in humans and animals (2) (7), enhance oxygen utilization during hypoxia, reduce lactic acid build-up in the blood during stressful events, and the number of seizures (1). However, conflicting data suggest that DMG has no effect on either specific or nonspecific immunity (8). DMG was also found to have no effect on oxygen consumption (VO2) in children with SLSJ-COX deficiency (9). The use of DMG to treat seizures or autism also stays controversial as clinical trials have yielded mixed results (1) (10) (11). DMG is non-toxic (7) and no significant adverse effects have been reported. DMG should not be confused with trimethylglycine (TMG), also know as betaine, that is involved in the methylation of homocysteine to form methionine.

Beans, cereal grains, liver

  • Athletic-performance enhancer
  • Immunostimulant
  • Autism
  • Epilepsy
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome

DMG supplementation has been used to enhance physical performance in animals perhaps via improved oxygen utilization and reduced lactic acid formation, but clinical studies are lacking. In humans it is thought to enhance humoral and cell-mediated immune responses (2). Purported uses for DMG include autism, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, and athletic performance enhancement; however, no mechanisms of action have been uncovered to elucidate such claims. A recent metabolic analysis of healthy subjects correlated high plasma cholesterol levels with low levels for some metabolites related to mitochondrial metabolism including dimethylglycine (12). DMG has been used as an ester to increase the solubility and bioavailability of a prodrug used in cancer research (13). However, DMG is not the active moiety and there is no evidence it has any antitumor effects.


  1. Kern JK, Miller VS, Cauller PL, et al. Effectiveness of N,N-dimethylglycine in autism and pervasive developmental disorder. J Child Neurol. 2001;16(3):169-73.

  2. Graber CD, Goust JM, Glassman AD, et al. Immunomodulating properties of dimethylglycine in humans. J Infect Dis. 1981;143(1):101-5.

  3. Innis SM, Davidson AG, Bay BN, Slack PJ, Hasman D. Plasma choline depletion is associated with decreased peripheral blood leukocyte acetylcholine in children with cystic fibrosis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Mar;93(3):564-8.

  4. Dimethylglycine (DMG). http://www.pdrhealth.com/drug_info/nmdrugprofiles/nutsupdrugs/dim_0097.shtml. Accessed December 8, 2009.

  5. Hariganesh K, Pratibha J. Effect of dimethylglycine on gastric ulcers in rats. J Pharm Pharmacol. 2000;52(12):1519-22.

  6. Reap EA, Lawson, JW. Stimulation of the immune response by dimethylglycine, a nontoxic metabolite. J Lab Clin Med. 1990;115(4):481-6.

  7. Herbert JD, Sharp IR, Gaudiano BA. Separating Fact from Fiction in the Etiology and Treatment of Autism: A Scientific Review of the Evidence. http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/autism.html. Accessed December 8, 2009.

  8. Bernini P, Bertini I, Luchinat C, et al. The cardiovascular risk of healthy individuals studied by NMR metabonomics of plasma samples. J Proteome Res. Nov 4 2011;10(11):4983-4992.

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