How Does Phenylethylamine Work And Is It Effective?

What Is Phenylethylamine?

Phenylethylamine is a chemical that naturally occurs within the human nervous system. Basically, it is derived from L-phenylalanine, which is a precursor in the body to norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine. This converted chemical, also known as PEA, can be replicated in labs and is also found in foods such as chocolate. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘Love Drug’ because of its effect on dopamine levels which greatly boost one’s emotional state. PEA is also highly effective in enhancing cognitive abilities.

Phenylethylamine works in conjunction with a number of other neural chemicals to create its intended effects in the mind and mood and does not maintain effectiveness without the rest of these chemicals. PEA needs them to interact with the neural synapses.


The effects of PEA and its associated neural chemical cluster have been observed since ancient times. The Aztecs, for example, valued physical work for the endless vitality it seemed to provide. They also labeled chocolate ‘the food of the gods’, because of the elevating effects it had on those who consumed it.

More recently, the first scientist credited with discovering this chemical is named Marceli Nencki, from Poland. He first isolated this chemical in rotting gelatin. After this initial discovery, others came along and started putting the rest of the neurochemical puzzle together. Nencki’s protege, Jules Jeanneret, reproduced his results. Another set of scientists found that bacteria can chemically alter the amino acid phenylalanine and turn it into PEA. Soon, PEA was found in a number of fermented foods such as rotting mackerel.


As it causes neurological and physical stimulation, it has been used to treat a number of psychological and emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. Some doctors have used PEA in conjunction with a number of other treatments to treat cardiovascular issues because it has been proven to increase blood pressure, flow, and heart rate.

Interestingly, it has also been used to treat disorders such as Parkinsons and ADHD along with other treatments, apparently with some measure of success. Apparently, this has inspired researchers to look more closely at the role played by PEA in the function and formation of these disorders. With the guidance of a doctor, someone who suffers from these disorders may experience a measure of relief from using this supplement.

For the lay user, many have reported enhanced focus and memory recall as well as a myriad of other cognitive benefits. Many others have reported enhanced positivity and elevated mood while still others have reported increased physical endurance and lowered pain and fatigue during workouts. This has allowed a number of people to increase the intensity of their workouts and push past performance plateaus.

Some who have tried Phenylethylamine have reported experiencing no effect at all, and it is unclear what could be the cause of this. A great number of factors could cause a lack of response. Some of these reports may have to do with the neural chemistry of the individual being incompatible with the uptake of PEA, or with poor quality manufacturing, depending on the individual circumstance.


There have been some weak indications that this drug can be used to aid weight loss, but this has not been proven. Multiple studies have been done to test the effect on weight loss, but nothing significant or solid has been found. The natural use for which the body produces PEA is for higher cognitive and emotional functionality, therefore successful users seek these effects. Many have achieved their goals with these ends in mind.

This neural chemical is not a stand-alone cure all though, and only people with specific chemical dispositions will achieve an effect from taking this supplement without ‘stacking’ the dose with other neural chemicals in PEA’s chemical cluster.

Recommended Dosage

It is noteworthy that many users have reported high sensitivity to this supplement. These strong reactions usually present as a highly euphoric mental state known as mania. The recommendation then is to start at a lower dose and work into higher doses at intervals. In this case, a low dose would be considered 100 mg.

Moderate to intense doses range from 250 – 500 mg per day. The dosage can be split between a morning dose and an early to late afternoon dose. Avoid taking it in the evening, however, as it will probably disrupt regular sleep cycles. Quality does affect the efficacy of the supplement, so research is encouraged to prevent having issues with potency. This will also help avoid possible toxicity from unscrupulous manufacturers of cheap, low-quality supplements.

Side Effects

Mild side effects include heartburn and nausea which one could argue as being common side effects with many substances that are administered orally, depending on the sensitivity of the individual’s system and their ability to process it. These complaints should be taken into consideration before trying PEA though, for those who are prone to such gastrointestinal discomfort. Perhaps consider whether the cost would be worth the risk of wasting a purchase.

Aside from these relatively mild side effects, there are more serious effects to consider. Although less common, a significant number of other people have reported some disturbing reactions. These include insomnia, confusion, dizziness, mania, intense headache, and painful tightness in the chest. These reactions are highly abnormal. It is a logical recommendation to consider seeking medical advice should one experience any of these. Go to the emergency room if the symptoms are severe or worsen.

Long-Term Use

There are many users who have used PEA for long periods of time (longer than one month) who report mostly (or completely) positive results. Most of these users have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness. In some other cases, these users are students or exercise enthusiasts. Most serious users combine this supplement with other neural chemicals that are reported to work together in clusters and boost their overall effectiveness.

Studies to identify risk factors of long term use do not exist, however, and with some of the noted effects that this drug has, it is generally suggested that users restrict the length of time in using the drug. Nearly all of the reports available regarding the long term use of PEA are the observed effects from individuals that actively use the supplement on a regular basis. PEA is commonly stacked with nootropics like Pramiracetam, Piracetam, and Adrafinil.

Short-Term Use

This supplement acts as a highly acute stimulant under most circumstances. For those users whose chemistry responds in this manner, this drug causes a short period of elevated mood changes. The user then harnesses this short burst to accomplish their goal. People have also sought out PEA for positive cognitive effects, such as mental clarity and the ability to focus more easily. Many students have made use of these effects during midterm cram sessions and at other similar times. Some have reported significant improvement in short and long term memory as well, especially when making relevant data connections in the middle of a conversation. These cognitive effects are the primary reason that the human body creates this neural chemical in the first place.

Along with elevated mood and cognitive disposition, many have found that PEA increases physical endurance. These users increase their workout loads in short bursts during the acute phase after taking the supplement, and as a result, PEA has gained marginal popularity in the fitness and bodybuilding circles.


Research into the effects of PEA on a number of different applications and disorders is ongoing. Some studies in very specific applications have been conducted with very favorable results. For example, studies have been conducted on the effects of PEA on drug-addicted youth and have been shown to significantly relieve many of the most intense symptoms of withdrawal. This is very exciting for professionals who work with at-risk youth.

Many scientists are interested in the long term effects PEA has on the aging process. This neural chemical plays a key role in the aging process that is not yet fully understood, and there is hope that PEA can be used to alleviate a large measure of discomfort associated with aging. A number of these studies are in process.

Also, there is ongoing research in the fields of cardiovascular and cognitive health. Although PEA has been used with a measure of success in specific ways, it is still poorly understood. The interactions between PEA and other chemicals and body processes still produce somewhat unreliable results. Scientists are working to understand the nuances involved in order to find the best, most effective uses for PEA in medicine.

Legal Status

This supplement is perfectly legal, as it is a chemical that occurs naturally in the neural chemistry of both humans and certain animals. This chemical also occurs naturally in certain foods, such as eggs and fish. An especially noteworthy food source for PEA is chocolate.

Online Reviews

The majority of reviews for consumers seeking to use this supplement as a stimulant of cognitive, emotional, or physiological wellness are positive except for those who did not have any physiological response to speak of. This may have been a result of the differences in manufacturing methods from one brand to the next.

Anyone who intended to use this as a weight loss drug was disappointed in the results at best. There are no documented cases of people who were caused to lose weight by PEA, and any who claim such only do so circumstantially.

Final Thoughts

This drug has many positive points along with the considerations a consumer should be aware of. For a person with a psychotic disorder, taking this supplement would wreak havoc on the mental state of that individual. Persons with cardiovascular issues should never take this supplement without direct supervision by their health care provider as it is noted to have direct cardiovascular effects.

Also, this drug has been proven useless if someone seeks to use this strictly as a weight loss supplement. It isn’t designed for that and does not alter a person’s physiology in any direct way that would help in weight loss.

However, if a person suffers from depression or cognitive sluggishness, this supplement could provide some relief until the source of the imbalance is found and relieved. When used incidentally, in a way that is secondary to other activities, lifestyle changes or even prescriptions, and with the most appropriate goals
in mind, this supplement has helped many people in achieving their goals.

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