A new approach for pain and inflammation?
There’s a promising new medication that may help to relieve painful symptoms and possibly reduce reliance on other drugs. Better still, it has virtually no side effects.
It’s called PEA (an abbreviation of its chemical name, palmitoylethanolamide).
The chemical structure of palmitoylethanolamide (PEA)
What is PEA?
PEA is a substance that occurs naturally in low levels in your body and in foods that you eat. It is found, for example, in egg yolks and soybeans.
It’s a fatty acid amide, a class of chemicals that are natural components of the membranes of your body’s cells. It is an active component, however, playing an inhibitory role against the body’s pain and inflammatory processes.
Research suggests that in conditions of chronic pain and inflammation, PEA levels may be reduced and unable to carry out their normal function. Supplementation of PEA (at levels much higher than those found in foods) overcomes this shortfall, often improving pain and inflammation.
What conditions might PEA treat?
In recent years, preclinical and clinical studies have shown PEA to be potentially useful in a wide range of therapeutic areas, including:
- Pain and chronic pain (e.g., back/neck pain, sciatic pain, neuralgia, radiculopathy, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), or chemotherapy-induced pain)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy
- Eczema (when applied to the affected region as a cream)
- Neurodegenerative disorders (e.g. Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis)
(Click on the links to read selected clinical studies and reviews of studies)
It is important to note that PEA is a relatively new therapy, and we don’t yet know if it is equally effective in all conditions and pain states. As a result, it is recommended that it be first taken in combination with one’s existing medications, to reduce their dosages, to reduce their unpleasant side effects, or to reduce or prevent breakthrough episodes. If sufficiently effective, it could then be tried as a primary treatment.
Really? No side effects?
In all the studies undertaken by scientists so far, PEA has been found to be remarkably free of side effects—even at relatively high doses.
How to take PEA
Although PEA is available for purchase without a prescription, we highly recommend that you consult with your doctor before taking it.
A typical dosage for pain would be 1 or 2 capsules taken twice daily (600-1200mg total daily dosage). It is sometimes taken at the higher dose initially, for the first 3-6 weeks, then reduced to the lower dose. Like many analgesics, it may not work immediately. It is usually effective after 1-3 weeks of dosing, but treatment should be ceased if no benefit is seen after 3 months.