Palmitoylethanolamide and ALS

Palmitoylethanolamide and ALS

Scientific studies focus on the possible protective effects of palmitoylethanolamide on the nervous system. No studies specifically focused on ALS have been done on palmitoylethanolamide yet. The effect of Palmidrol on the course of the disease with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) has to be studied before any statements can be made.

Palmitoylethanolamide is a substance that is naturally present in our body and our diet, for example in eggs. It is a fatty acid amide that belongs to the group of saturated fatty acids that our body can produce on its own from palmitic acid which comes from dairy products and meat. Palmitoylethanolamide is also known for its anti-inflammatory and painkilling effects. In addition to that, there have been several studies in the last few years which show a protective effect of palmitoylethanolamide on the nervous system. This was a research about nerve cells in animals that had Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease; for now, it has not been proven it has had any positive effects on patients (2-3). The protective effect of palmitoylethanolamide is attributed to the effects of certain receptors (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-α [PPAR α) through which the inflammation reaction in the body is stopped (2-3).

No studies have been done on the effect of palmitoylethanolamide in cell or animal models for ALS, nor have any placebo-controlled studies been done with patients. On the internet, however, there are descriptions of a few patients with ALS that experience an improvement in bodily functions after having been taking palmitoylethanolamide. Unfortunately, these descriptions cannot be verified. It is important to mention that we have found that a positive effect of the substance in individual patients can not be confirmed in placebo-controlled studies. However, that does not mean that it is not worth continuing the study on the effects of palmitoylethanolamide on ALS. The assumed way it works, the stopping of the inflammation response of the body itself, also plays a role with the way ALS develops.

Patients with ALS often want – with a good reason – to not wait for further research and start using a potentially effective substance immediately. Often the idea ‘it doesn’t hurt to try’ comes into play. For many remedies, this is not the case, because there are negative side effects. However, with palmitoylethanolamide, there are earlier studies in which no negative side effects were found. Fat is an essential building block of the nervous system and a healthy amount of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids is important for it to function well. We have also not found any proof of the harmful effects of palmitoylethanolamide as a medical food used in limited dosages (up to 1800 mg for 10-30/kg body weight). There is no medical proof the substance should be prescribed to the patients.

As previously stated, the effect of palmitoylethanolamide on the development of ALS has to be further studied before a statement can be made. Judging from the effects and the functioning of palmitoylethanolamide, it can be expected that the development of the disease could be slowed down. It is not realistic to hope for the disease to stagnate or be cured with the use of palmitoylethanolamide, even though we all wish it could.