How Your Body Makes PEA - And Why
Posted on Jun 30, 2022

What is PEA?

PEA (Palmitoylethanolamide) is a naturally occurring chemical in the human body. PEA has been a known component of foods since the 1940s. It is found in peanuts, soybeans, egg yolks, and many more food sources. PEA was discovered in 1943 during a study of children with rheumatic fever. This infectious disease was found to be more prevalent in children who ate fewer eggs. Next, egg powder was fed to children and the incidence of rheumatic fever dropped. Finally, in the 1950s the active ingredient, PEA, was identified. Since the 1950s, PEA has been known to have anti-inflammatory and other immune-boosting properties.

How PEA Is Made

PEA is synthesized in the body from palmitic acid, the most common fatty acid in animals. Palmitic acid is common in many foods including palm tree oil, meat, cheese, butter, and other dairy products. A variety of different cells in the body are a part of the synthesis process. An increase in PEA levels has been linked to an increase in inflammation.  This is because the human body will produce PEA during times of stress to reduce the inflammation around nerves. PEA is a part of the endocannabinoid system.

Why Your Body Makes PEA

PEA is created in the body to fight off inflammation, pain, and immunity compromises. PEA regulates many pathophysiological processes. This means that it generates a response against an abnormal state of being associated with conditions or diseases. PEA is known to react to inflammation, neuroinflammation, neurotoxicity, and chronic pain. It has been shown to provide neuroprotection, anti-inflammatory, antinociceptive and anti-convulsant features. PEA reduces mast cell degranulation at nerve sites and also helps to control glial cell behavior. PEA is an exciting molecule for the management of neuroinflammation.  

PEA reduces inflammatory responses of proinflammatory enzymes, cyclooxygenase (COX), and endothelial cells.

In the 1970s, research on PEA and its ability to fight off respiratory inflammation and influenza yielded positive treatment results. Since then research and studies have looked at other conditions like osteoarthritis, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, irritable bowel disease, interstitial cystitis, and more. These studies have been able to show that PEA is an essential chemical that plays a fundamental role in protecting and repairing the body.

PEA Supplementation

Enough PEA may not be synthesized in the body to handle all the inflammation and chronic pain someone may be experiencing. By supplementing with PEA, you can help support your body’s nervous, immune, and muscular systems.

PEA supplements can be a great natural alternative to NSAIDs, which have well-known and horrible side effects with long-term use. Currently, there are no known side effects of PEA supplementation.

PEA is helpful for neuropathic pain and inflammation, especially if it is chronic. PEA helps to support pain relief from diabetic neuropathy, sciatica, osteoarthritis, failed back surgery, arachnoiditis, MS, dental pain, carpal and tarsal tunnel syndromes, chemotherapy neuropathy, chronic pelvic or vaginal pain and postherpetic neuralgia among others.  Generally, PEA is supportive of current regimens for these conditions. Sometimes, the addition of B vitamins enhances this support.