Pain is a complex experience that many times is difficult to manage, which can significantly impact one’s quality of life. Traditional approaches include medications such as opioids and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), but have side effects and can lead to addiction and dependence. In addition, many older adults cannot take them due to the other medications they are prescribed. As a result, many individuals seek alternative therapies to manage their pain. One consideration is Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), which a naturally occurring fatty acid that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

PEA is an endogenous compound produced by the body in response to inflammation and injury and is found in various foods such as egg yolk, soybeans, and peanuts. It is also available in supplement form and has been studied extensively for its pain-relieving properties.

According to a review published last month in Nutrients, researchers examined the efficacy of PEA in the treatment of chronic pain.

This review consists of 11 double-blinded randomized controlled trials including 774 patients using PEA supplementation for chronic pain. The primary outcome was pain intensity scores with secondary outcomes including quality of life, sleep quality, functional status, and side effects. The dosage of PEA varied quite a bit between the studies ranging from 300 mg to 1200 mg per day in single or divided dosing and a duration in treatment between 8 to 12 weeks. PEA was found to reduce pain scores with additional benefits of improving quality of life and functional status with no major side effects.

This review demonstrates that PEA supplementation is an effective nutritional therapeutic for chronic pain. It is also good to use a micronized form for optimal bioavailability.

Research has shown that PEA is effective in managing various types of pain, including chronic pain, neuropathic pain, and inflammatory pain. In one study, patients with chronic lower back pain were given PEA for eight weeks. The results demonstrated a significant reduction in pain intensity and an improvement in quality of life. Another study showed that PEA supplementation was effective in reducing neuropathic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis.

In addition to its pain-relieving properties, PEA has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and plays a role in the immune response. There is also additional on sports performance and sleep with PEA.

Other nutrients to consider include omega-3 fatty acids, phyocannabinoids, curcumin, and vitamin D.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Lang-lllievich, K, Klivinyi C, et al. Palmitoylethanolamide in the Treatment of Chronic Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients 2023, 15(6), 1350.


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