One of the major things I learned during the course of writing and sharing my most recent article on endometriosis is that there seems to be a level of feeling within that community that perhaps the role of alternative management solutions is not given enough attention.
While we can’t say for certain that there is decisive evidence that nutrition and supplementation is the be all and end all of endometriosis management, there is enough out there to have an honest discussion about some low-risk options available to those living with the condition.
One such option is the naturally occurring fatty acid Palmitoylethanolamide, or PEA.
I honestly wasn’t aware of this compound until my recent collaboration with Canadian supplement company AOR, with whom I worked only a few weeks ago on a probiotic project.
When I realized that AOR also sold supplemental PEA, and shortly after saw it in the endometriosis management literature being mentioned in this 2020 systematic review, I knew we had another partnership on our hands.
In today’s article I will introduce you to what PEA is, and open up a discussion as to what role it could play for those living with endometriosis.
Let’s get to it!
An Intro To PEA
Palmitoylethanolamide may sound fancy or foreign, but it is both produced by the human body and found in commonly available foods such as egg yolk and peanuts.
What makes this compound notable is the fact that it operates with the human Endocannabinoid System (ECS) where it may have a role to play in facilitating anti-inflammatory and anti-pain signals on the cellular level.
Given that endometriosis is a condition characterized, in part, by pelvic pain and inflammation it is perhaps unsurprising that PEA supplementation has been explored as a potential supportive management option.
PEA And Endometriosis
In a 2010 European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, subjects were provided a supplement containing 400mg of PEA paired with an antioxidant known as transpolydatin.
The study found that, compared to placebo, women provided this supplement experienced reduced pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea (painful periods) and dyspareunia (pain during intercourse).
The supplemental period was 90 days.
For those intrigued by alternative management strategies in the world of endometriosis, a friendly reminder that AOR’s P.E.A.k Activate product is a 400mg PEA supplement that is sold in a 90 day supply.
In 2019, another experimental study was published out of the International Journal Of Women’s Health where a combined PEA supplement was offered to women living with endometriosis (~400mg for 90 days) and arrived as similar conclusions in terms of its effectiveness for pelvic pain, dysmenorrhea and dyspasreunia.
Quality of life and psychological well-being were also measured, both of which showed improvement after the 90 day intervention period.
In both cases the authors of the respective studies deemed PEA as a safe and suitable option for women living with endometriosis with no evidence of potential adverse effects.
And while we can’t make definitive conclusions from only a few studies, there is certainly enough here to justify further exploration and consideration of the use of PEA over a 90 day period– particularly because there is not really a huge body of alternative management options available for women living with endometriosis.
Andy De Santis RD MPH