Palmitoylethanolamide powder holds potential as a CBD alternative
Regulatory confusion over cannabinoids (CBD) has opened up the space for alternatives, within which Gencor has released Levagen, a palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) ingredient touted as having anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties. The company also utilizes a novel delivery method coined LipiSperse that increases the bioavailability of its PEA ingredient and allows for applications such as shots and chews. “This opens up the market and allows consumers to be more familiar with PEA. It can add value to products within the sports nutrition space,” Mariko Hill, Product Development Executive at Gencor tells NutritionInsight, at Vitafoods, Geneva, earlier this month.Palmitoylethanolamide powder
PEA is produced in the body as a biological response and as a repair mechanism for inflammation. It is a simple fatty acid amide that is structurally related to the endogenous cannabinoid transmitter, anandamide (AEA). AEA is associated with regulating pain and the more AEA in the bloodstream, the less discomfort a person may feel. PEA has numerous clinical studies demonstrating its potential as an effective and safe anti-inflammatory, analgesic and tissue-protective nutrient.
CBD was early this year classified as an unauthorized novel food and regulatory limitations may curb NPD, especially in the pain relief relating to sports nutrition space, according to Hill. This is where Gencor’s Levagen PEA comes in as an alternative, which can eliminate regulatory hurdles, she says. “This leaves space for an alternative like PEA, more specifically our brand ingredient Levagen, which acts on those receptors that boost energy and have anti-inflammatory properties,” Hill notes.
However, this does not mean that PEA is just an alternative. In places where cannabinoids face no regulatory issues, PEA can be used in combination with CBD to boost health benefits. In places where CBD is allowed, PEA can work synergistically with it, as they target those same pathways,” Chase Shryoc, Gencor’s Vice President of Sales and Business Development, tells NutritionInsight.
“PEA is a fatty acid and an endogenous module, which can be found in every cell in the body. It is an endocannabinoid receptor agonist, which means that it works in the endocannabinoid system, similar to CBD. CBD binds directly to CB1 and CB2 receptor sites, while Levagen PEA indirectly activates those same receptors and has that same effect, but from a different direction,” Shyroc explains.
Hill adds that although PEA is an alternative, people should look at it as a completely different product to CBD. “It works synergistically because it is an endocannabinoid and is actually produced in the body endogenously as well. Supplementation can then offset that balance within the body and you can also use it in combination with CBD, but since CBD is still a novel food that may present challenges.”
Gencor is using a new delivery method called LipiSperse, that can boost Levagen’s properties. LipiSperse is a novel system tailored to increase the dispersion of crystalline lipophilic agents in aqueous environments. Cold water dispersible (CWD) powders have an equilibrium established between the LipiSperse on the powder surface and the LipiSperse in the solution, according to the company.
“So there is a Levagen standalone and one supported by LipiSperse, which we call Levagen+, a cold-water dispersible powder. This delivery technology increases the bioavailability and functionality of the ingredient. We also did a PEA study in which Levagen+ is showing 1,8 higher absorption to standalone PEA,” Hill notes. The new delivery method allows for a broader spectrum of applications for the ingredient.
Levagen for osteoarthritis
Adding to the list of benefits for the ingredient, a new study has found that Levagen may have a beneficial effect on knee osteoarthritis and support healthy aging. The study published in the Inflammopharmacology Journal, aimed to examine the safety, tolerability and efficacy of PEA when dosed at 300mg and 600mg per day on symptoms of knee osteoarthritis.
“Osteoarthritis is one of the most common joint related concerns caused by the breakdown of articular cartilage and remodeling of joint tissues driven by inflammatory mediators,” says R.V. Venkatesh, Managing Director at Gencor. “The results of this study demonstrated the effects of Levagen and its ability to not only reduce pain but its ability to reduce anxiety levels, according to the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS).”
The eight-week, double-blind randomized placebo-controlled study also concluded that Levagen may be a novel treatment for attenuating pain and reducing other associated symptoms of knee osteoarthritis at both 300mg and 600mg per day.
“PEA is unique due to its several fast-acting therapeutic effects,” notes Shryoc. “The study recipients reported a gradual reduction of WOMAC pain scores in just one week with further significant reductions at week 4 and 8. In addition to joint health, Levagen can also aid in restful sleep and recovery.”
According to the company, there are additional clinical studies taking place with Gencor’s Levagen which are expected to be released later this year. Gencor is also putting additional research into Levagen+.