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ADHD Drug Amphetamine Can Improve Endurance, New Study Says

Nov 30, 2016 11:35 AM EST

Amphetamine, a potent brain-stimulating drug, commonly prescribed in the treatment of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy, may slow down the rise of your body temperature and disguise signs of fatigue or exhaustion -- but it comes with dangerous health ramifications.

According to Dr. Yaroslav Molkov, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Georgia State, previously of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, rats injected with amphetamine spent as much energy to run and processed oxygen the same as those that were not injected, Eureka Alert reports.

"But what was significantly different was their body temperature. In rats that received amphetamine, their body temperature was lower. When normal rats start running, their temperature starts rising and at some point when it hits a certain level, they stop. There's a very strong signal from the brain to not overheat. However, if the temperature increases more slowly, it hits the same level later and that's why rats treated with amphetamine are able to run longer," he said.

Explaining the details of their research, Dr. Molkov said in a press release of Georgia State University, "Using mathematical modeling, we were able to prove that what happens is they increase their heat exchange with the environment. Basically, they increase their heat dissipation. But while heat dissipates quicker from the core body, it's not the same for muscles. Your body is tuned to know that if the core temperature, and hence, the muscle temperature reach certain levels, you should stop."

"But when you inject yourself with amphetamine, you don't know that anymore because your temperature control system is tricked and you think that it's not time to stop yet because your core temperature is not that high, even though your muscle temperature can already be dangerously high. I think this is one of the most important conclusions of this paper, that a seemingly innocent mechanism that accounts for better performance and durability actually turns out to be really dangerous as far as muscle overheating is concerned," he added, Science Daily writes.

While this feature of amphetamine could allow athletes to run longer without getting tired, they also risk overheating their muscles, which could be unsafe, the study concludes.

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