PEA, a cannabimimetic compound and lipid messenger, is commonly isolated from soybeans, peanuts, and egg yolks.
The study, published in Nutrients, looked at the effects of Levagen+ - a water-dispersible PEA developed by Gencor.
Findings showed that PEA aids muscle recovery by lowering myoglobin and blood lactate concentration.
A total of 28 males were recruited and randomised to consume either Levagen+ or a placebo right before, right after, three, 24, and 48 hours post exercise.
The exercise involved four sets of leg press to induce muscle damage.
Right before and after the exercise, their degree of muscle soreness, thigh circumference, blood lactate concentration, and biomarkers of muscle damage and inflammation, and transcription factor pathways were measured.
The measurements were again taken during the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 24th, 48th, and 72nd hours post exercise.
Results showed that consuming PEA could aid muscle recovery by reducing myoglobin concentration (a marker of skeletal muscle damage) and blood lactate concentration.
In fact, the myoglobin concentration in the PEA treatment group was consistently lower than the placebo throughout all points of measurement.
The researchers explained that the PEA could have promoted the clearance of myoglobin and reduced muscle protein breakdown.
As for blood lactate concentration, the PEA treatment group experienced a lower peak (7.38 ± 3.09 mmol/L) as compared to the placebo (8.81 ± 2.44 mmol/L).
The blood lactate concentration was also lower in the treatment group when measurements were taken at the 3rd, 24th, 48th, and 72nd hours post exercise.
The researchers said that the reduction meant that PEA supplementation could allow individuals to exercise at a higher intensity for a longer time.
However, they also acknowledged that the mechanism behind reduced lactate concentration post-exercise in the treatment group was unknown.
“These results may indicate that PEA supplementation is able to aid in muscle recovery from repeat bouts of exercise performed within three hours,” the researchers concluded.
What’s not seen?
Contrary to their hypothesis, the researchers did not see a reduction in inflammation markers or evidence of upregulation in phosphoprotein signalling pathways in the PEA treatment group.
The degree of muscle soreness was also consistently higher in the treatment group pre, post exercise and during the 1st, 2nd, 48th, and 72nd hours post exercise.
The researchers attributed the observations to a few reasons.
First, the supplementation was for acute instead of chronic muscle inflammation, and thus, the results differed from their hypothesis since previous studies focused on chronic muscle inflammation.
Also, the systemic, rather than localised inflammation was measured, which affected the resolution of inflammation.
The Effect of Orally Dosed Levagen+™ (palmitoylethanolamide) on Exercise Recovery in Healthy Males—A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study
Authors: Alistair Mallard, et al