Doctor reveals natural compound that helps tame chronic pain

When chronic pain flares up, it can be hard to focus on anything else until you find relief. Over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers may seem like an easy fix. But the side effects of both are well known and can be devastating. Fortunately, recent research has located a compound known as palmitoylethanolamide (PEA for short) as a powerful natural pain reliever. Read on to find out what it is and how it can help you.

Why you should consider a natural remedy like PEA

Whether it’s neck pain, chronic back pain, or aching knees, over 20 percent of American adults suffer from chronic pain on a daily basis.

And more than 30 million people reach for NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories medications such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen every day. The snag: These medications can cause nagging health problems like nausea, heartburn, and gastrointestinal distress. And when used regularly, the search in the file Annals of long-term care reveals that NSAIDs can increase the risk of peptic ulcers, kidney problems and strokes.

Prescription drugs are no better. Opioids such as hydrocodone, which are sometimes prescribed for severe pain, can be addictive. Additionally, they can cause side effects such as insomnia, headaches, constipation, dry mouth, chest pain, and more.

The good news: Experts say the natural compound palmitoylethanolamide has the potential to reduce or even eliminate chronic pain for many sufferers.

What is Palmitoylethanolamide?

Palmitoylethanolamide is a relatively large organic molecule that the body produces, explains Connor Brenna, MD, a clinical researcher at the University of Toronto’s Perioperative Brain Health Center. Dr. Brenna has been studying the compounds’ ability to fight chronic pain.

PEA is one part of a complex metabolic orchestra that plays inside our cells, notes Dr. But it also appears to play other microscopic roles such as a molecular type of signaling like a cell phone and perhaps as an anti-inflammatory agent like aspirin, he adds.

In other words, PEA is one of many compounds that the body produces to keep things running smoothly. But what gets many experts buzzing is its natural pain-relieving ability.

How does palmitoylethanolamide relieve pain?

The mechanism for treating chronic pain is still a mystery, admits Dr. Brenna.

Some researchers suspect that it works in a similar way to other known pain relievers. This means that it interacts with pain receptors to tame inflammation or calm overactive immune cells.

In this phase of the research, Dr. Brenna says scientists are focusing more on determining whether it’s truly effective than why it works. And the results seem to indicate yes.

What benefits can you expect to see?

A study in Drug targets for neurological disorders of the central nervous system found palmitoylethanolamide offers two key benefits. When people supplemented with 600 mg. of palmitoylethanolamide per day, 88% reported that they were now able to move around comfortably.

Additionally, 82 percent of people who took PEA as part of the study reported that pain severity decreased 50 percent or more over three weeks. These were results on par with those of prescription and over-the-counter pain medications.

Further proof that it works: a review in Nutrients conducted by Dr. Brenna and other researchers found palmitoylethanolamide to be an effective and well-tolerated treatment for chronic pain. It even significantly outperformed ibuprofen in one study. And it did so without the side effects of over-the-counter and prescription drugs.

Can you get palmitoylethanolamide from food sources?

Palmitoylethanolamide is naturally produced by many plants and animals, and you probably already consume it. You can find PEA in soy lecithin, beans, egg yolk, peanuts, alfalfa and milk, among other foods, says Dr. Brenna.

However, studies of palmitoylethanolamide for pain management have used doses much larger than those found in food. The studies we found applied wide-ranging doses of 150600 mg. once or twice a day, adds Dr. Brenna.

To replicate these doses without supplementation, a person would need to consume one pound of soy lecithin or one hundred thousand peanuts each day, which could cause other problems, notes Dr. Brenna.

How much PEA in supplement form should you take for pain relief?

To reap the study-proven benefits, aim for a daily dose that falls within the study-proven range of 150 to 600 mg. Dr. Brenna adds that it’s possible an even lower dose could prove helpful for chronic pain, so you can start small and work your way up to a larger dose if needed. One to try: Nootropics Depot Palmitoylethanolamide Capsule (Buy from Amazon, $33.99). It costs about $2 per day if you take one 400mg capsule per day.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your doctor before pursuing any treatment plan.

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