Man hiking and enjoying himself with relief from reduced pain in joints

Safely Turn Off Pain Signals

In human trials, a fatty acid produced in the body has been shown to reduce pain from joints, arthritis, sciatica, and migraines.

Scientifically reviewed by: Dr. Gary Gonzalez, MD, in September 2022. Written by: Nathan Rawling.

A March 2022 study published in the Pain Journal revealed a striking statistic:

More than one in five U.S. adults reported suffering from chronic pain.1

Pain medications can help temporarily. But long-term use poses health risks.

A safer alternative is needed. That is where PEA comes in.

Palmitoylethanolamide, or PEA for short, is a fatty acid made in the body.

Scientists have found that it works in unique ways to reduce inflammation and relieve pain—without worrisome side effects.2

In human trials, PEA has been shown to reduce pain associated with common conditions, including:2-9

In a study of people suffering from jaw joint pain, just two weeks of PEA use resulted in greater pain reduction and improvement in jaw mobility than high-dose ibuprofen.10

The Problems with Pain Medications

Two common classes of medication used to treat pain are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and opioids.

NSAIDs include over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®), naproxen (Aleve®), and high-dose aspirin.

These drugs can be effective at managing some forms of inflammation-related pain, but they come with side-effect risks.

Even short-term use of some NSAIDs has been found to be associated with increased risk of heart attack and stroke.11-13

Opioid medications are even more problematic because they are side-effect prone and often addictive.14-16

The leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States is acetaminophen toxicity.17 Regular use of acetaminophen is associated with increased risk of kidney damage, kidney cancer, and dementia.18-20

Scientists began looking for a safer way of controlling pain. They found it in palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), a compound produced in the body.

PEA and Inflammation

PEA is a fatty acid found in the body that lowers inflammation.

Animal studies show that PEA modulates inflammatory and oxidative pathways and significantly relieves chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain.21,22

Several clinical trials have established the validity of PEA as a powerful pain reliever.8,23

Unlike commonly used pain-relieving drugs, PEA has no documented cardiovascular or renal risk.8 Clinical studies on PEA highlight its safety and efficacy even when used in combination with common pain relievers.4,6

Reducing Chronic Pain

Several human studies have evaluated the ability of PEA to control chronic pain.

One of the most remarkable findings coming out of these studies is that PEA is effective at reducing pain for a wide range of underlying conditions, including:

  • Headache,
  • Nerve pain,
  • Joint pain,
  • Back pain, and
  • Other types of pain.

In patients with knee osteoarthritis, both 300 mg and 600 mg of PEA taken daily led to significant reductions in pain scores compared to a placebo.3 PEA also significantly reduced scores on various scales evaluating joint stiffness, improved knee function, and reduced anxiety.

Sciatica is extremely common. Irritation of the fibers of the sciatic nerve running down the back of the leg can cause severe pain in the lower back, leg, and foot.

In a study, 636 patients with sciatica were randomized to receive either 300 mg or 600 mg daily of PEA or a placebo.4 Both groups receiving PEA had improvements in pain and quality-of-life scores compared to placebo. Those taking the highest dose improved the most.

One study directly pitted PEA against ibuprofen, one of the most-used NSAIDs.10

People suffering from temporomandibular joint pain (affecting the joints of the jaw) received either PEA (300 mg in the morning and 600 mg at night for one week, followed by 300 mg twice a day for the second week) or high-dose ibuprofen.

What you need to know

Fighting Pain with PEA

  • Chronic pain is estimated to affect more than one in five adults in the U.S.
  • Common pain medications such as opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are associated with serious health risks.
  • Researchers have identified the fatty acid palmitoylethanolamide, or PEA for short, that works to reduce pain and harmful inflammation.
  • Clinical studies of a wide range of pain types have shown that PEA intake relieves pain without harmful side effects.
  • In one head-to-head study, two weeks of PEA intake led togreater pain reduction than the popular NSAID ibuprofen.

After two weeks, PEA resulted in greater pain reduction and improvement in jaw mobility than ibuprofen.

It doesn’t stop there. Studies evaluating migraine headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, and a wide range of other types of pain have found that PEA significantly reduces pain intensity.2,3,5-9

In one study, patients with chronic pain who could not achieve adequate control using standard pain medications were given 600 mg of PEA twice a day.2 This treatment reduced pain scores in all patients who completed the study, regardless of their underlying condition.

All these studies found PEA to be well-tolerated with practically no side effects.


Chronic pain is extremely common, but medications to treat it are too often ineffective and carry troublesome side effects.

Three classes of common pain drugs, NSAIDs, acetaminophen, and opioids can have significant and potentially life-threatening side effects.

Scientists have identified a natural fatty acid called PEA that acts by several mechanisms to reduce pain and inflammation.

Several human clinical trials have shown that PEA can help treat a wide range of pain types, without dangerous side effects.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


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