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what-is-pea - Blog

What is PEA?

As we age, we find that the wear and tear of living can bring about discomfort in everyday activities. Living with discomfort is not what we want and yet it is more prevalent than ever. Research shows us that over 60% of over-60’s suffers from some form of chronic pain, and yet the only solutions out there are pharmaceutical products that may or may not have other effects on the body.

Recently, a new generation of natural health ingredient has come to market, P.E.A, or palmitoylethanolamide. This endogenous fatty acid amide is produced naturally in the body in response to injury and stress. PEA influences the endocannabinoid system, which means PEA is a safe and clinically proven alternative to CBD.

As with so many nutrients, levels of PEA decrease in the body as we age, and during times of stress and inflammation or pain, therefore supplementing with the right ingredient can help to replenish those depleted levels.

So, what does this ingredient actually do?

PEA has demonstrated effectiveness in for chronic pain or multiple types associated with many painful conditions, especially with neuropathic, or nerve pain, inflammatory pain and visceral pain such as endometriosis and interstitial cystitis.

With over 50 years of research and many hundreds of clinical studies including randomised, double-blind studies on the effectiveness of PEA, there are exciting opportunities for this ingredient with those who suffer long-term pain.

How does it work?

There is a growing body of evidence that suggests chronic pain is largely due to a process called neuroinflammation, this is where a number of inflammatory cells in the central nervous system are activated. The body automatically sends immune cells to the area of injury which release inflammatory chemical products that lead to the activation and maintenance of chronic pain. Evidence suggests that if we suppress the activation of these cells, it may act to reduce the chronic pain being felt.

On the forefront of research into agents that may act on neuroinflammation is PEA, which has been reported to reduce the cell activation. This naturally occurring agent produced by the body has no reported serious side effects or drug interactions, making it a safe treatment options.

Over the last few years more clinical research and practical experience have confirmed that PEA is an effective treatment.

A systematic review article published in 2016 identified all clinical trials conducted between 2010 and 2014 on PEA, including micronized (m.PEA) and ultra-micronized PEA ( u.m.PEA), commercially available forms of PEA structured to improve absorption and activity of PEA.  Twelve studies met high standards of research criteria and included 1,188 patients who were treated for chronic pain with m.PEA or u.m.PEA for periods of 21 to 60 days with daily doses ranging from 300 to 1200 mg. The different pain diagnoses included: degenerative conditions in 1,174 patients (failed back surgery, back disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome etc.); neuropathic in 170 patients (brachial plexus injury, diabetic, post-herpetic neuropathies, stroke); and mixed diagnoses in 82 patients (arthritis, cancer and other miscellaneous painful diagnoses).

The results of the study including only the 1,431 patients with initial pain intensity ≥ 4 (on a 1-10-point scale of pain severity) were considered. The study concluded that on average, there was a significant reduction in pain equal to 1 point every 2 weeks for the 2-month study periods. PEA improved pain in all patients regardless of age or gender, although there was a slightly enhanced benefit in male patients under 65 y/o.

Most of the research on PEA has focused on neuropathic (nerve) pain where significant benefits have been identified. But there is a growing body of research indicating that PEA benefits many types of pain besides neuropathic pain which, incidentally, may also be due to the growing appreciation of the role of neuropathic pain in conditions such as arthritis and other inflammatory pain conditions as well as visceral pain syndromes including endometriosis, interstitial cystitis and inflammatory bowel disease.

PEA also appears to possess effectiveness in syndromes associated with chronic pain including depression and anxiety.