PEA is effective for reducing many different types of chronic and neurological pain, such as neuralgia,3 diabetic neuropathy,4 sciatica,5 carpel tunnel syndrome6 and other trapped nerve conditions. The results from 10 studies showed that people taking PEA had significantly greater relief from acute or chronic pain conditions than those not taking PEA.7
Analysis of 12 studies suggested that PEA produces a progressive reduction in pain intensity, reducing by an average of 1 (on a 0 to 10 pain intensity score) every two weeks. Over 80% of those taking PEA achieved a pain score of 3 or less by day 60 of treatment.8
PEA can reduce pain arising due to osteoarthritis - an inflammatory condition associated with the breakdown and degeneration of joint cartilage. In one study, 111 people with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis took either 300 mg PEA, 600 mg PEA or placebo every day (in divided doses spread throughout the day) for 8 weeks. Significant improvements in pain and stiffness occurred at both doses compared with placebo, as well as reduced levels of anxiety.9
This was a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study on the safety and efficacy of PEA for the management of mild to moderate osteoarthritis symptoms.
During times of acute stress, the body responds by raising levels of endocannabinoids and related substances such as anandamide and PEA. These naturally damp down anxiety, and also regulate the way traumatic memories are encoded and extinguished. People with higher blood levels of PEA appear to have a higher stress tolerance and are less prone to depression and post-traumatic stress than those with lower levels.10
PEA has a calming effect and helps to induce restful REM sleep through its effects on the sleep regulatory areas of the brain.11 Interestingly, PEA contributes to circadian rhythms and, in some animals, PEA contributes to hibernation.12 PEA helps to improve the quality of slow wave sleep (an alternative name for deep sleep) by reducing inflammation and pain. In people with carpal tunnel syndrome who were experiencing fragmentary sleep, PEA supplements both reduced pain intensity and improved sleep quality, when compared with no treatment; they fell asleep more quickly and experienced longer durations of continuous sleep time.13
PEA is a lipid that is found in skin cells and it is used in veterinary medicine to treat a variety of skin conditions. In a study involving 60 people with eczema characterised by itchy, dry, rough, and scaling skin, adding PEA to topical emollient treatments for 28 days improved skin barrier function, as well as skin hydration by reducing water loss.14
Getting PEA from your diet
PEA is found in small quantities in some foods, such as soybeans, peanuts and egg yolks.
PEA is typically used in doses of 200mg to 600mg per day.
PEA is often combined with vitamin C and vitamin D3. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of cartilage, while vitamin D3 contributes to the maintenance of normal muscle function and normal bones.
There are no reported serious unwanted effects associated with PEA.