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 study published last month in Pharmaceuticals, researchers investigated the efficacy of PEA for reducing pain, duration, and medication usage in migraines.

This study included 64 healthy participants who suffer from migraine headaches. At the beginning of their migraine symptoms, participants supplemented with either 600 mg of PEA or a placebo. Once the supplement was taken, each individual recorded a visual analogue scale (VAS) for pain every 30 minutes for a 4-hour period or until the migraine resolved. If the migraine had not resolved 2 hours after supplementation, they were instructed to take a second dose. The PEA supplementation resolved more headaches after 2 and 8 hours and had a lower VAS for pain score at 1.5 and 4 hours. In addition, there was a significant reduction in rescue medication used compared to the placebo. Overall, PEA was safe and effective in reducing migraine pain, duration, and medication use in an otherwise healthy adult population. 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 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 magnesium.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Brisky D, Skinner R, et al. Effectiveness of Palmitoylethanolamide (Levagen+) Compared to a Placebo for Reducing Pain, Duration, and Medication Use during Migraines in Otherwise Healthy Participants-A Double-Blind Randomised Controlled Study. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2024 Jan 23;17(2):145.

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