It has been found one in five Australians suffer from chronic pain, and unfortunately, this increase once we reach 65, with the prevalence increasing to one in three. Quite understandably, one in five adults suffering from chronic pain also suffer from mood disorders and depression.
Arthritis and back pain are believed to be one of the most frequent causes of chronic pain, which I imagine comes as no surprise to many.
Last week I wrote about a Palmitoylethanamide (PEA) which as I explained is a natural fat-soluble molecule which is not only found in foods such as meat, eggs, peanuts and soy, but is also produced naturally by the human body. PEA is what is referred to as an autocoid and being an autocoid means it is produced by our body, to then be used as it is needed in every tissue of our body. As I also wrote last week, PEA binds to specific sites within our cells reducing inflammatory activity. It is also believed to lessen the action of certain immune cells which are a part of our nervous system and which may help diminish the intensity of pain signals. PEA is thought to work by closing down the source of the inflammation and pain in our body when required.
Although our body produces PEA, unfortunately it often doesn’t produce sufficient PEA to be effective with pain and inflammation and particularly if we have been suffering from chronic pain for some time.
Arthritis - A double blind randomized placebo-controlled study in 2019 found PEA substantially reduced pain and stiffness in participants suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee. As a part of this study over 8 weeks, 111 participants took a daily dose of 300mg PEA, 600mg PEA or a placebo. Researchers found at the completion of the trial, 53.7% of participants taking PEA had a decrease in their knee pain and stiffness compared to 25% in the placebo group. (1)
Another study undertaken with 24 patients suffering from osteoarthritis, to assess the efficacy of PEA compared to Ibuprofen had positive outcomes. Patients took 300mg PEA in the morning and 600mg PEA in the evening for 7 days, then 300mg twice a day for the next 7 days. There was a significantly greater reduction in pain compared to those patients taking 600mg Ibuprofen three times a day for two weeks. As well they found the PEA was better tolerated. (2)
Lower Back Pain and Sciatica – A trial of over 600 participants taking 300 or 600mg a day of PEA majorly reduced sciatic pain, the higher dose having the more beneficial effect. It was reported PEA reduced pain intensity by over 50% in 3 weeks, being more effective than most painkillers. PEA was found to also reduce lower back pain in a trail of over 100 participants taking 600mg per day. In fact, by the conclusion of the trial, 50% of the participants were able to stop supplementing with additional pain killers. PEA was also found to be helpful for pain after failed back surgery. (3)
Carpal tunnel syndrome is another painful condition which has also been researched. An 8-week study undertaken with 50 patients taking 1200mg of PEA a day found participants taking PEA experienced a decrease of pain. Interestingly those not taking PEA found their pain intensity increased. (4)
PEA can be taken with other medications including pain medications. It is thought to improve the effects of other pain medications, in some cases enabling the reduction of these pharmaceutical pain medications which we know sometimes have undesirable side effects.
(1) Steels E, Venkatesh R, Vitetta G, Vitetta L. A double blind randomized placebo controlled study assessing safety, tolerability and efficacy of Palmitoylethanolamide for symptoms of knee osteoarthritis. Inflammopharmacology. 2019 Jun;27(3);475-485. Doi:10.1007/s10787-019-00582-9
(2) Marini I, Bartolucci ML, Bortolotti F, et al Palmitoylethanolamide versus a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug in the treatment of temporomandibular joint inflammatory pain . J OrofacPain 2012:26(2):99-104
(3) Jan M Keppel Hesselink, David J Kopsky Palmitoylethanolamide, a neutraceutical, in nerve compression syndromes: efficacy and safety in sciatic pain and carpal tunnel syndrome. JPainRes, 2015 Oct 23;8:729-34. Doi:10.2147/JPR.S93106. eCollection 2015 (4)
(4) Assini A, Laricchia D, Pizzo R, Pandolfini L, Belletti M, Colucci M, et al. The carpal tunnel syndrome in diabetes; clinical and electrophysiological improvement after treatment with Palmitoylethanolamide