What is Phenylethylamine
It is called the love drug, but what is it that makes Phenylethylamine so special?
Also called PEA, Phenylethylamine is a substance that is needed in your body in trace (tiny) amounts. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking little of its importance.
Even in these tiny quantities, it can have profound effects on your brain, mood, and behavior. Many have turned to it to relieve many conditions such as depression and stress or for improving mental focus and functioning.
But how effective is PEA, and can it really work well for your situation?
Read on to find out what PEA is, how you can benefit, and the risks to watch out for.
Marceli Nencki was the first man to isolate and identify Phenylethylamine in 1876. A great pioneering biochemist from Poland, he was also a research partner to the famous Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov with whom he studied urea, the stuff that is found in our urine.
Nencki got Phenylethylamine out from rotting gelatin, a colorless liquid protein substance you can get from boiling animal bones and connective tissue in water or dilute acid. Later, scientists also managed to find PEA from rotting or fermenting food, decomposing mackerel, and ripe cheese.
Fermented foods like red wine and cheese tend to harbor a lot of PEA.
Fun fact: if you want to determine the freshness of your food, look at the phenylethylamine levels. A high amount of it tells you your food has more bacteria since bacteria also produce it.
Finally, in 1879, researchers found a connection between PEA and phenylalanine, one of the 20 amino acids the body uses to synthesize proteins. They found that bacteria converted phenylalanine to PEA in circumstances where oxygen was low.
However, it wasn’t until the 1900s that scientists found the real importance of PEA in our body chemistry. It turned out that Phenylethylamine played an important role in many functions relating to the brain, our mood, and behavior.
These included the connection between DEA and depression,
What are the benefits of Phenylethylamine? The benefits of Phenylethylamine are numerous and can be listed as follows:
- Mood enhancer and improvement of depression – in one study, the majority of participants with depression benefited by orally taking 10mg to 60mg of PEA twice per day for four weeks. This benefit was achieved by combining PEA with 5 gm of an antidepressant such as selegiline, i.e., Anipril or Eldepryl. These benefiting participants continued to benefit from depression relief when the treatment was extended for another 50 weeks.
- Improving alertness and focus – this is accomplished by DEA’s action of increasing brain levels of such neurotransmitters like dopamine, adrenaline, etc
- For bodybuilders, it can add strength although its effects are short-lived and so it is not suited for lengthy training on its own. To prolong the effects, you can stack PEA with other supplements like Monoamine Oxidase.
- Can help with weight loss – this happens mostly through PEA’s role of suppressing your appetite. PEA increases epinephrine and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters that are known to elevate your metabolism rates. This can help in the more rapid burn of fats in your body, thus helping you to cut weight. Look out for PEA in your weight loss supplement because many include it in their formula
- Used in MDMA for ecstasy – MDMA is also known as Ecstacy, a synthetic drug which has found a use as a recreational drug to produce altered mood and perception. PEA is actually a building block used to make MDMA
- Treatment of schizophrenia – though still not fully understood and is being studied, schizophrenia patients may benefit from reduced symptoms
- Can help to treat ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder) – this disorder, which mainly affects children and teenagers, makes them have a short attention span. You can observe ADHD in a person not only from his behavior but also from their body PEA levels (usually from their urine samples). ADHD patients have lower DEA levels
- Can improve your libido – PEA has been called the love drug for a good reason. This is because it is linked to dopamine and other neurotransmitters which create feelings of pleasure in romantic situations. During sexual arousal, these neurotransmitters are what give you sexual pleasure and excitement.
How do you increase Phenylethylamine?
Given its many benefits, naturally, you may want to know how you can increase your body phenylethylamine levels. Your body can synthesize some phenylethylamine from another amino acid called phenylalanine. Here are some of the things you can do to increase Phenylethylamine in your body:
- Exercise – this has the effect of curbing your depression, which will actually lead to an increase of PEA. There is perhaps no other better way of increasing your PEA than this.
- Food sources – some diet choices also pack plenty of PEA. Chief among these is chocolate, especially the dark variety. Other food sources include red wine, sausage, and cheese.
- Supplements – of course, you also have the choice of taking supplements. Keep in mind though that PEA is quickly metabolized once it is absorbed into the blood through the gut. Before it has a real chance of getting into the brain, it will have been flushed out of the body as inactive elements in the urine. This means PEA supplements, especially oral ones, have a low chance of delivering their PEA into the brain.
The brain-blood barrier, however, poses no challenge to PEA because it can easily cross the barrier into the brain. Most DEA supplements feature a type of PEA called phenylethylamine HCL, which is a salt form.
Phenylethylamine is generally safe for short-term use.
A look at many supplements show them listing the following possible side effects which you might get from Phenylethylamine
- Mild Headache
These are minimal and milder examples of side effects. It’s possible, however, to get more serious side effects from PEA like:
- Intense headache
- A rise in blood pressure
- Increase in heartbeat rate
Phenylethylamine and substituted Phenylethylamine: what’s the difference?
The first is the standard form of Phenylethylamine. The second is simply a modification in the structure of the first to give it different properties. These changes, though slight, can result in dramatically different effects such as psychosis that resembles the symptoms of schizophrenia. Examples are
- MDMA – can change your behavior and mood
- Amphetamines – can lead to hallucinations
These are often illegally sold in the streets. However, they can also be prescribed for some illnesses like depression and ADHD.
Substituted Phenylethylamine has its own set of side effects which can be quite serious. Examples:
- Complete alteration of personality or long-term behavior
And then you also have Designer drugs
Made to mimic Phenylethylamine so you can’t tell the difference, these designer drugs are made out of Phenylethylamine and promise the same highs. They are usually falsely promoted as the real thing.
PEA is an amino acid that is derived from another amino acid, phenylalanine. It can be created in the lab as well produced naturally by your body. Your brain and spinal cord produce tiny amounts of it using phenylalanine, an essential amino acid that comes from food rich in protein.
Many PEA supplements incorporate phenylethylamine HCL in their formulation. This is a salt form of PEA.
In the absence of enough scientific information on dosage, many manufacturers recommend dosages of between 100 mg and 300 mg per day. This dosage can be split into one to three times per day. The upper limit per day should be 1000 mg per day.
Those who should not use it
It is not advised for the following people to use Phenylethylamine.
- Schizophrenics – they already have high levels of Phenylethylamine and dopamine in their bodies. Increasing this further puts them at risk
- Those taking medication for Parkinson’s disease
Action of Phenylethylamine
PEA works by acting on a brain receptor called TAAR-1 (receptors reside on the surface of each brain cell). This instructs the brain cells to release neurotransmitters, which can create different feelings such as sadness, happiness, or wakefulness when they reach their target areas in the body.
Some of these neurotransmitters include serotonin, dopamine, or epinephrine (adrenaline),. They play an important role in regulating mood, enhancing cognitive performance, and maintaining good mental health.
Keep in mind that once neurons have released these neurotransmitters, they can still take them up again and make them less available.
PEA has the remarkable ability to block this reuptake of the neurotransmitters by the neurons. This means the neurotransmitters can stay longer in the synapses (spaces separating the neurons) and continue to deliver their benefits for much longer.
- PEA has proven clinical results of relieving depression
- Can improve your mood
- Most PEA that is ingested orally is broken down quickly in the body before you it gets to your brain
- Some people may experience some side effects
If you are suffering from depression, chronic mental and physical fatigue, or poor mental concentration, PEA is a good choice because it has been proven to relieve these conditions.
Besides the PEA that is naturally produced in your body through exercise, for example, you also have options like PEA drugs or PEA supplements to add to your body PEA.
PEA supplements score good marks because they are generally safe, unlike PEA drugs that can come with many serious risks to your health.
That said, you need to be sure of the effectiveness of supplements in supplying your body with usable PEA. Always stick with well-known vendors with a history of providing quality supplements.