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Phenylethylamine: The Love Molecule

Phenylethylamine the Love Molecule

The feelings at work in the nervous system play a central role in the reality we experience moment to moment. Whether you are feeling gripped by panic, soothed by a walk, or aroused by some fascinating activity, the nervous system helps process these emotions.

In this article, we will look at how phenylethylamine (PEA) can hold the promise of higher awareness, increased brain function, and the feeling of being in love.

neurons

What Is Phenylethylamine?

PEA is a monoamine alkaloid that naturally occurs in the central nervous system (CNS) of all mammals. Here in the CNS, it functions as a neurotransmitter which transmits chemical messages. It is also a neuromodulator which is used to regulate neurons of different types.

PEA is derived from the amino acid phenylalanine and synthesized in the body to be used in a number of different ways. As a trace amine and natural amphetamine, PEA functions very differently from other amines like epinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine. Actually, it stimulates the production of these bodily chemicals that can alter the status of the body.1  

Dopamine is a “feel good” drug that regulates sex drive, induces feelings of pleasure, and plays a vital role in the rewards and motivations processes. Serotonin enhances many brain functions like awareness. Lastly, epinephrine increases the heart and breathing rate for greater supplies of oxygen to the brain and organs.

If these sensations all sound familiar, it is because PEA is the brain chemical that presides over feelings of love, attraction, and infatuation. During these experiences, PEA is orchestrating a virtual cascade of chemicals that can cause profound physiological effects.  

In addition to stimulating the release of these neurotransmitters, PEA also impedes the actions of those bodily chemicals that seek to breakdown them down. Unlike other compounds that can overexcite and deplete neurotransmitters, PEA simply regulates their activities at an increased level. Some of the most notable effects of PEA in action are the occurrence of swooning, heart palpitations and the sensation of butterflies in the stomach.2   

Benefits of Phenylethylamine

Improved Neurotransmitter Function

As a stimulant for the nervous system, PEA works to improve the functions of neurotransmitters that carry messages from the brain to the places where they are needed for their vital roles. Because it has a modulatory effect on neurons and the brain chemicals that they interact with, PEA functions to enhance nerve health and protect these delicate structures.

Some of the potential benefits of this improved function include a longer life, increased physical performance and an increased sense of well-being.3

vegatables

Microbial for Foods

Since the agricultural age, humans have been looking for clever ways to keep the food we produce safe from spoilage for as long as possible. One of the latest breakthroughs in this field has been the awesome microbial power of PEA.

In a study looking for the best microbial to reduce bacteria cells on biofilm test samples, PEA had the greatest bacteria fighting action. The researchers suggested PEA would be the best solution to keeping beef broth safe from microbial attacks.4

Addresses Nervous Disorders

Through its capacity as neuromodulator and stimulant, PEA keeps the functions of the CNS on point and resilient against certain behavioral and cognitive conditions. ADHD has been associated with exceptionally low levels of dopamine in use throughout the brain.5 While still unsure whether this is a cause or symptom of the condition, there is extensive proof that treatments to improve dopamine in the brain are effective for ADD/ADHD. Studies have shown the PEA reduced hyperactivity in mice, but further studies will be needed to produce a generalized treatment for ADHD featuring PEA.6

Improved Cognitive function

While the connection is not fully understood, chocolate is often found to boost energy levels, induce feelings of elation, and also enhance cognitive functions. The conditions of increased awareness and enhanced mental function are similar to the physiological effects associated with attraction.

Considering the proven effects of PEA on brain functions and that it is found abundantly in the original cacao pods, there is a reason to believe PEA has a role to play in this enhanced mental capacity.7

depressed woman

Antidepressant

Depression is often a symptom of depleted levels of neurotransmitters and an exhausted brain tired from stress and exertion. If left untreated, the effects of this condition can worsen into a state of dementia and worse yet other degenerative conditions.

A wide array of today’s leading antidepressants work by improving the levels of these “feel good” brain chemicals in the brain. PEA forms an important part of the brains most pleasurable experiences and looking for ways to increase its presence in the body is a great way to begin your new happier life.

In addition to enjoying dark chocolate and falling in love, regular exercise is also an effective way to increase PEA activity. Studies have found that this natural brain amphetamine is also an important part of the chemical array that provides the euphoric runner’s high.8  

Risks and Precautions

Phenylethylamine, or beta-phenylethylamine as it is sometimes marketed, is considered possibly unsafe even for most healthy people. Professional medical advice is recommended before supplementation. PEA works very similarly to the drug amphetamine and can cause unwanted side effects.

girl looking in broken mirror

Bipolar Disorder

The use of phenylethylamine has been known to aggravate this condition allowing conditions of depression to escalate to mania.

Schizophrenia

PEA is not recommended for those with schizophrenic conditions as it can lead to hallucinations and delusions.

Surgery

PEA may interfere with the use of anesthetics on the central nervous system. It is best to avoid this compound for a couple of weeks before and after surgery.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

We still are not sure how larger doses of phenylethylamine can affect pregnant mothers or their developing infants. Other than PEA ingested through the diet, mothers and expectant mothers should discuss the risks and benefits of PEA with their doctor.9

Final Notes on PEA

PEA provides the body with a sudden rush of pleasant, stimulating, and cognitive boosting neurotransmitters. While supplementation may be advised in some cases, the best way to enjoy more of this natural amphetamine in your life is to do so naturally.

Relish the occasional dark chocolate, make sure you are getting plenty of exercise, and if you feel so inclined, reach out and make a love connection. You will be on the path to increased PEA activity in no time.

Photo Credits: ChristophBurgstedt/shutterstock.com, KucherAV/shutterstock.com, Photographee.eu/shutterstock.com, MAD.vertise/shutterstock.com


Maddy J.

By Maddy Jenner

Maddy is a researcher and an essential oil advocate and loves learning about the intersection of these categories. She loves hiking, camping, exploring and being outside.

Favorite MONQ blend: Zen

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The above information relates to studies of specific individual essential oil ingredients, some of which are used in the essential oil blends for various MONQ diffusers. Please note, however, that while individual ingredients may have been shown to exhibit certain independent effects when used alone, the specific blends of ingredients contained in MONQ diffusers have not been tested. No specific claims are being made that use of any MONQ diffusers will lead to any of the effects discussed above.  Additionally, please note that MONQ diffusers have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. MONQ diffusers are not intended to be used in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, prevention, or treatment of any disease or medical condition. If you have a health condition or concern, please consult a physician or your alternative health care provider prior to using MONQ diffusers. MONQ blends should not be inhaled into the lungs.

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