Merits of palmitoylethanolamide supplementation

Scientific studies and experimental data have shown that palmitoylethanolamide is an effective natural dietary supplement in the treatment of a large number of disorders. These range from chronic pain and inflammation to influenza and the common cold. The fact that the protective effects of palmitoylethanolamide on cell and tissue health were retained throughout the evolution of eventually all plant and animal life may explain its very broad applicability and lack of side effects.

Though not all mechanisms of action have been fully clarified, current clinical opinion cites palmitoylethanolamide as a way of capitalizing on nature’s defense mechanisms. Tackling inflammation effectively requires one to commandeer nature’s own anti-inflammatory mechanisms to induce a ‘dominant’ program of resolution. One such program involves local production of lipid mediators, including palmitoylethanolamide, capable of switching off inflammation when it exceeds its natural function of damage control and itself becomes part of the problem.

A large body of literature documents the beneficial effects of exogenously administered palmitoylethanolamide in experimental models of a variety of acute and chronic inflammatory pain syndromes. Whether these effects can ultimately be attributed to correction of local depletion, to boosting of normal tissue values, or to still other mechanisms, continues to be studied and may vary from one indication to the other—which also means: from one stage or course (acute/chronic) to the next.

The pleiotropic nature of palmitoylethanolamide can also be described as a “shotgun” because it hits different important cellular targets simultaneously. Moreover, research has confirmed the ‘entourage hypothesis’ suggesting that palmitoylethanolamide may act as an enhancer of the anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive activity exerted by other endogenous substances via the inhibition of their metabolic degradation. The effects of palmitoylethanolamide can thus be contrasted to the “magic bullet” approaches seen in the development of many pharmaceuticals. This makes oral supplementation with palmitoylethanolamide an interesting alternative or worthwhile complementary, strategy in the treatment of a large number of disease states.

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