Does PEA (Phenylethylamine) Really Work?
By Admin | Tuesday, April 10, 2007 9:50:57 AM America/New_York
A critical analysis says not by a long shot.
PEA is a stimulant like substance naturally produced in the body. It is also found in small amounts in chocolate and other foods such as blue-green algae, salami, and bologna. The reason PEA is showing up in some weight-loss and whole health products is because it is a brain chemical that is associated with stimulation of various neurotransmitters in the brain that influence emotions such as euphoria, alertness, and feelings of attraction, as well as suppressing appetite. In fact, it is affectionately known as the "love chemical or love drug" since it mimics the brain chemistry of a person in love. The runner's high has also been attributed to a potential increase in brain levels of PEA and there is limited research showing potential benefit in the treatment of depression. Some unscrupulous marketers have even stated that it converts to amphetamine in the body. All this sounds terrific, but the key issue is whether ingesting PEA increases PEA levels in the brain and triggers such effects. Here is where the good news breaks down. In order for dietary PEA to reach the brain it has to pass from the GI tract into the blood, and then from the blood through the highly regulated blood brain barrier. The fact is PEA does not have a chance; it is destroyed in the gut but even if it wasn't it would be quickly broken down by monoamine oxidase (MAO) to completely inactive compounds such as phenylacetic acid and tyramine. Theoretically this problem could be circumvented by administering selective MAO inhibitors in order to prolong the levels of PEA (MAO inhibitors are a very potent form of anti-depressants that have many serious side effects). Even if you were motivated enough to get a prescription for a MAO inhibitor, you would have to deal with high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, and other serious adverse effects and even then it is doubtful that orally administered forms of PEA would yield any meaningful effect. Despite the heavy marketing of PEA and its documented mood-enhancing effects in the brain, the bottom line is that taking dietary supplements of PEA is a total waste of money.
Not surprisingly, there is not even a shred of research to demonstrate that PEA dietary supplements will contribute in any way to weight-loss. Any formulation that utilizes PEA to promote weight-loss (or even mood elevation) is seriously misguided. It was a theory based on wishful thinking but the science is clear cut. Do not get caught up in the marketing hype. There are clearly much better alternatives currently available that are well proven to enhance mood and promote weight-loss.