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International Journal of Inflammation
Volume 2013, Article ID 151028, 8 pages
Review Article

Palmitoylethanolamide: A Natural Body-Own Anti-Inflammatory Agent, Effective and Safe against Influenza and Common Cold

1Faculty of Medicine, University Witten/Herdecke, Alfred-Herrhausen-Straße 50, 58448 Witten, Germany
2Department of Research and Development, Institute for Neuropathic Pain, Spoorlaan 2a, 3735 MV Bosch en Duin, The Netherlands
3Division of Human Nutrition (Bode 62), Wageningen University, P.O. Box 8129, 6700 EV Wageningen, The Netherlands

Received 3 April 2013; Revised 9 June 2013; Accepted 10 June 2013

Academic Editor: Juan Carlos Kaski

Copyright © 2013 J. M. Keppel Hesselink et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is a food component known since 1957. PEA is synthesized and metabolized in animal cells via a number of enzymes and exerts a multitude of physiological functions related to metabolic homeostasis. Research on PEA has been conducted for more than 50 years, and over 350 papers are referenced in PubMed describing the physiological properties of this endogenous modulator and its pharmacological and therapeutical profile. The major focus of PEA research, since the work of the Nobel laureate Levi-Montalcini in 1993, has been neuropathic pain states and mast cell related disorders. However, it is less known that 6 clinical trials in a total of nearly 4000 people were performed and published last century, specifically studying PEA as a therapy for influenza and the common cold. This was done before Levi-Montalcini’s clarification of PEA’s mechanism of action, analyzing the role of PEA as an anti-inflammatory agent. We will review in depth these studies, as the results support the effectiveness and safety of PEA in flu and respiratory infections.