Phenethylamine (2019 Review): Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage, and Warnings


Phenethylamine is an amino acid found in the body and in your local health store. It is touted as everything from a love drug to brain booster. What are the real phenylethylamine benefits? What are the side effects of phenylethylamine? What is the proper dosage of phenylethylamine? And who shouldn’t take phenylethylamine?

Table of Contents

  1. What Is Phenethylamine?

  2. The Benefits of Phenethylamine

  3. Phenethylamine Side Effects

  4. Phenylethylamine Dosage

  5. Warnings about Phenethylamine

  6. Summary


What Is Phenethylamine?

Phenethylamine is a substance that can be made in the lab, though it also occurs naturally in the human body. In fact, it can happen readily elsewhere, such as when chocolate has been fermented. Phenethylamine can be found in small amounts in chocolate, and that is thought to be why these foods are mood-boosters. Conversely, the body can produce phenethylamine when you exercise; that may be the root cause of runner’s high.

The presence of phenylethylamine in foods can be an indicator of bacterial contamination, as well, though it can be the result of thermal processing of the food.

Phenethylamine is sometimes referred to as PEA, but it is a very different compound than 1-phenylethylamine. It can be called Benzeneethanamine, beta-Phenylethylamine, and β-phenylethylamine. The IUPAC name is 2-phenylethane-1-amine. Phenethylamine Hydrochloride or Phenylethylamine HCl is a salt form of phenylalanine that is more stable than phenylalanine.

PEA is found throughout the brain and spinal cord. The body makes it from the essential amino acid phenylalanine. That amino acid is typically found in protein-rich foods like eggs, tofu, and other soy protein. Phenylethylamine isn’t an antioxidant like some other health products, but you won’t see it falsely labeled as a cancer-killer, either.

PEA acts as a stimulant when consumed. It functions as a neuromodulator and neurotransmitter. For that reason, it is sold as a mood enhancer and weight loss supplement. Phenethylamine is called a “trace amine” since it occurs in lower levels than chemically related neurotransmitters like epinephrine and dopamine.

PEA is a building block of illegal mood-altering drugs like MDMA, but we are not advocating its use in any way for something like this. Phenethylamine supplements are safe, though illegal medicines derived from them are not.

Summary: Phenethylamine is a safe, legal amino acid found in the body that you can consume as well.

The Benefits of Phenethylamine

Phenethylamine is found in unusually low doses in those with ADHD. [1] Taking phenethylamine seems to improve the mental function of those with ADHD and increases the level of PEA in their urine. [2] It is being recommended as an alternative to traditional attention deficit and hyperactivity drugs because of the relative lack of side effects or long-term side effects. The conventional treatments for ADD and ADHD cause headaches, insomnia, constipation, and nausea. The body takes up phenylethylamine HCl rapidly, so it improves attention among those with ADHD faster than other medications, as well.

PEA has been shown to alter serotonin transport in the brain. This may lead to a safer and fast-acting alternative to SSRI drugs for those with depression. [3] Traditional selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRI drugs slowly increase the concentration of serotonin in the synapses, though side effects can begin almost immediately. The adverse side effects of SSRI drugs include bone density loss and insulin resistance. PEA alters the serotonin transporter without these adverse effects. The PEA works by triggering the TAAR-1 receptor in the brain, causing it to release neurotransmitters. These include but are not limited to serotonin, adrenaline, dopamine, and norepinephrine. [6]

Because of phenethylamine impact on the brain and general stimulating effect, it improves alertness and focus. You’re able to fight off fatigue and better regulate your attention.

Phenylethylamine is an agonist affecting both dopamine and serotonin levels. It is being used to treat addiction to both alcohol and other stimulants, while it is tough if not impossible to become addicted to PEA. If you are struggling with addiction, talk to your doctor about treatment – which may include PEA.

Insubstantial concentrations, it fights Escherichia coli. [1] However, we’re not going to recommend this herb to be taken as a treatment for that infection. Studies who that trace amino acids like phenylethylamine can have a modest immunosuppressive effect. [12] This doesn’t make PEA a viable treatment for asthma and arthritis, but it also means PEA is safe to take without depressing your immune system.

Parkinson’s Disease is characterized by a lack of dopamine, something a phenylethylamine supplement could impact. However, there is not much evidence a PEA supplement would worsen that condition.

Phenylethylamine increases your level of catecholamines; this category of neurotransmitters includes adrenaline. It stimulates these hormones naturally and without negative side effects. Adrenaline is linked to the fight-or-flight response. While it can be translated to the body as anxiety, it can also power you for a physical challenge, whether it is boxing or a hard workout in the gym.

Pretty much any stimulant will give someone energy because it stimulates the metabolism and speeds up the brain. Depending on the tonic, it may have a minor effect on appetite or a major one. Coffee wakes you up and makes you alert, but it won’t stop you from eating a full breakfast. Meth will wake you up and keep you up for days, and it will shut down your appetite. Energy drinks may pump up your metabolism and interfere with sleep but won’t alter your appetite. Phenethylamine is an ideal, moderate stimulant. It suppresses appetite for several hours after you take it, but it won’t do so to the point that you look like a starving addict. According to a 2013 study, PEA was recommended as a safe alternative to amphetamine and methylphenidate. [4] Interestingly, you can take PEA at a dose too low to see the stimulatory effect but not see the central nervous system stimulation. [5]

Animals that take PEA have lower rates of depression. This is similar to how coffee, another stimulant, reduces humans’ odds of developing depression. [7] Women who drank four or more cups of coffee were 20% less likely to have depression than those who didn’t consume stimulants like this. Subjects who drank beverages with less caffeine didn’t seem to be protected against depression. This suggests that regular use of PEA can reduce your risk of developing depression if you’re at risk as well as enhance mood. In a limited trial some time ago, PEA actually relieved depression for more than half of patients in the study. [10] A side benefit of taking PEA is not having to bother buying a coffee pot or worry about your latte factor.

Caffeine is found in many fat-burning supplements because it boosts your metabolic rate up to 11%. [8] And PEA is better. [9] At the same time, it suppresses appetite. This makes PEA a viable option for those who want to lose weight. Do not take PEA plus another weight loss supplement, because phenethylamine is already found in many weight loss pills.

The stimulating effect of PEA can increase sex drive. That’s why it is sometimes called a love drug. Just don’t use it along with other medicines that can increase your blood pressure. The general stimulating effect also explains why it is sold as an athletic performance booster. Be careful of taking PEA in addition to any other performance enhancer.

Summary: PEA has many documented benefits that are hard to get elsewhere without significant side effects.

Phenethylamine Side Effects

Phenethylamine is a stimulant. Take too much of it or take it too close to bedtime, and you may find yourself unable to sleep. A large dose could cause your heart to race, mainly if you’ve consumed other stimulants like coffee or energy drinks. Phenylethylamine HCl side effects include heartburn, headaches, nausea, and constipation. In general, nausea will pass after continued use, though you can treat it by switching to a lower dose.

If you suffer side effects like confusion, dizziness, intense headaches, a spike in blood pressure or sudden increase in heart rate, stop taking phenylethylamine HCl.

Stimulants like PEA can dehydrate you. Drink more water when you’re taking this supplement. In fact, dehydration caused by such stimulation can explain why someone feels tired prematurely, so drinking more water can help you maintain your energy levels while taking phenethylamine. Do not combine phenethylamine with another stimulant, whether it is energy drinks, heavy consumption of coffee or mental enhancers that are also stimulants.

Summary: Phenethylamine has relatively few side effects, and as long as you don’t take too much or have a health condition that precludes its use, it is very safe.

Phenylethylamine Dosage

Clinical studies have shown that taking PEA at a dose of 10-60 mg orally per day was sufficient to treat mild to moderate depression. In a 1996 survey, they gave patients 10 milligrams per day of selegiline, too, to slow the destruction of PEA in the body. [10] It improves mood as quickly as addictive drugs but doesn’t produce tolerance; you won’t have to up the dosage to maintain your mood.

Depending on the intended effect, you can take anywhere from 500 milligrams to 500 milligrams per day. You should start at 50 milligrams per dose taken three times a day to see how your body reacts to it. For a significant emotional lift, a dose of 250 milligrams per day is typically safe. That range is also suitable for bodybuilders and those taking phenethylamine as a weight loss aid. For maximum athletic performance, take phenethylamine thirty to forty-five minutes before you work out. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water before you work out and while you’re exercising. If you put phenylalanine under your tongue, it will be absorbed more quickly by the body.

Phenethylamine supplements are quite safe as long as you don’t have a health condition that precludes its use. There are no known human deaths due to Phenylethylamine supplements, though you don’t want to risk pounding headaches and a racing heart because you took too much. Avoid taking it after the mid-afternoon to minimize sleep problems, regardless of your dosage regimen. If you find your heart racing, your blood pressure uncomfortably high or it irritates your stomach, drop down your dosage or take a lower dose several hours apart instead of one high-dose supplement. If you combine phenethylamine with an MAO inhibitor, lower your phenylethylamine dosage.

Summary: Phenethylamine isn’t addictive, nor is it even potentially as harmful as its alternatives.

Warnings about Phenethylamine

If you have phenylketonuria (PKU), you cannot safely take a PEA supplement. If you take PEA with 7-Nitroindazole, Acepromazine, or Acepromazine, you increase the odds of adverse effects as well as their severity.

Phenethylamine is a stimulant. It can raise your heart-rate, trigger anxiety, cause agitation, and raise blood pressure. Phenethylamine should not be taken by those with bipolar disorder since it can shift them from depression to mania.

One study found that schizophrenic patients had lower levels of phenethylamine, but that doesn’t mean those who have schizophrenia would benefit from PEA. Those who have schizophrenia should not take phenethylamine since phenethylamine can worsen symptoms like hallucinations and delusions.

Don’t take a phenylethylamine supplement is nursing, because PEA interferes in the generation of prolactin, inhibiting milk production. PEA doesn’t seem to interfere with any other hormonal system.

The “cheese syndrome” or “cheese effect” is a known condition where a high intake of cheese plus MAO inhibitors plus PEA causes a dangerous increase in blood pressure. If you’re taking a PEA supplement plus MAO, lay off the cheese. The same problem can be seen if you consume too much chocolate with that particular combination, as well. [11]

Regardless of your diet, if your blood pressure becomes high or spikes, stop taking PEA. If you start to suffer from blurred vision, seeing red or other symptoms of very high blood pressure, seek medical attention. If you already have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor before starting phenylethylamine HCl.

Summary: Don’t take phenethylamine is you’re concerned about blood pressure or negative interactions with psychiatric medications. Talk to your doctor if you have a health condition that could prevent it from being adequately broken down by the body.


Phenethylamine or PEA is one of the safer weight loss, energy, and mood enhancing supplements out there. Unless you have a medical condition or take a medication that can interact badly with PEA, phenylethylamine supplements have many benefits with relatively few side effects and nearly no potential problems.