Brian McNicoll

We’re talking a lot in Washington these days about limiting principles.

In the healthcare debate, we wonder if government can make you buy health insurance, what stops it from making you buy broccoli or lobster or a Prius. In the arena of foreign engagements, if we can lead from behind to take down Khadafi in Libya, why not Assad in Syria, Chavez in Venezuela or the newest Great Dear Fabulouser-Than-All-Before-Him leader of North Korea?

How much airport security is enough? And why? And when and how should government be able to listen to our phone calls and monitor our texts and emails?

Then, there is the great American regulatory machine. How much of our freedom will we surrender to ensure our air and water are clean, our banks and financial institutions responsible and our food and drugs safe? What responsibility does the government have to present this information responsibly, to act without favor and with restraint? At what point do costs outweigh benefits?

Because, just as we didn’t need the financial crisis of 2008 to tell us money men sometimes lose their bearings, we didn’t need the Pink Slime controversy of 2012 to know the Safety Cops themselves are not immune from hysterical overreach.

Which brings us to the case of – and I’m only going to type this once – dimethylamylamine. This chemical, better known as DMAA, is a stimulant extracted from the geranium plant. The recommended dosage produces an energy burst comparable to two to three cups of coffee. It is used in dietary supplements and by those wanting to get energized for a strenuous workout.

It is an ingredient in about 200 pre-workout products, including such name-brand stimulants as Code Red, Hemo Rage Black, Hydroxystim, Jack3D, Napalm, and Nitric Blast.

It works the way most stimulants do, by restricting blood vessels. Narrow the vessels and you force the blood to push harder to get through. Pushing harder takes more energy. Once the body begins to unleash that energy, it begins to produce it more efficiently and then can be harnessed for other uses.

The FDA, with which Americans have had a, shall we say, complicated relationship through the years, has sent letters to 10 manufacturers demanding they go to the same lengths to prove DMAA is safe as those who seek approval for prescription drugs – or remove it from the market.

Brian McNicoll

Brian McNicoll is a conservative columnist and freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va.