What is Phenylethylamine HCL (PEA)?
Phenylethylamine (PEA), also known as phenethylamine, is a naturally occurring monoamine alkaloid that acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system. The body can biosynthesize β-phenylethylamine from the amino acid L-phenylalanine by enzymatic decarboxylation. The phenylalanine hydroxylase enzyme can also convert to l-tyrosine. Combining phenylethylamine with hydrochloride produces phenylethylamine HCL, a stable salt analog. Some foods contain phenylethylamine, including dark chocolate, sausage, certain cheeses, and some red wines.
What Does Phenylethylamine Do?
Phenylethylamine has a few potential mechanisms of action. It activates the TARR1 and TARR2 receptors in the brain. Activating the TARR1 receptor boosts the production of neurotransmitters that influence mood and cognition, including dopamine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Activating the TARR2 receptor prevents neurons from taking those same neurotransmitters, giving them more time to exert their beneficial effects.
Phenylethylamine and Mood
Some individuals with mood disorders have low levels of phenylethylamine. PEA supplements may promote positive moods by increasing the availability of the feel-good hormones dopamine and serotonin. Small studies have noted PEA supplements improved mood and sense of well-being in participants when combined with selegiline. Selegiline prevents enzymes from breaking down PEA, which allows it to exert its effects for longer. Another small study confirmed this finding.
Phenylethylamine may facilitate easier social interactions as well, as it enhances feelings of affection, empathy, and sociability. In this state, people are more talkative, friendly, and compassionate. They also experience greater motivation to communicate, resolve conflicts, and work on their personal relationships.
Phenylethylamine for Cognition and Focus
Individuals with attention disorders also frequently have low phenylethylamine levels. Dopamine plays a critical role in regulating attention and focus. PEA supplements boost dopamine levels, which may improve alertness and focus. PEA supplements may increase cognitive energy as well.
Phenylethylamine Side Effects
Phenylethylamine works on the brain similar to amphetamines, and it has comparable side effects. These include nausea, rapid heart rate, jitters, and irritability. Phenylethylamine derived from dietary sources is metabolized quickly by monoamine oxidase B (MAO-B) enzymes. Warning: Do not take phenylethylamine as a dietary supplement while taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
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