ADHD and PEA – The Stealth Neurotransmitter

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December 26, 2010
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January 23, 2011

New ADHD Insights Introduce The Importance Of PEA  Neurotransmitters Make Medications Work

I've been telling you about neurotransmitters [NTs] for some time now – and have promised to fill you in on the NT applications for ADHD. An easy entry into that neurotransmitter discussion is the relevance of the new ADHD medication Intuniv – as reported here in 7 specific CorePsych Blog Posts how Glutamate is now on our ADHD doorstep, even though we didn't know about it previously. The NT science is there.

The Most Relevant ADHD Neurotransmitters – A Brief History
We have thought for years that the only relevant NT for treating and understanding ADHD was dopamine [Ritalin and Dexedrine]. Next pharma folks recognized that dopamine and norepinephrine together [Adderall] provided significantly improved efficacy.

Then along came the less than satisfactory, less predictable straight norepinephrine [Strattera] intervention strategy. Interestingly, though unappreciated by many, all of these various medications focused predominantly upon collecting the NT chickens already at the synaptic ranch.

Key Point: ADHD Medications don't deliver chickens to the synapse – they only catch the neurotransmitter chickens already at the ranch. 😉 Remember: ADHD medications are only chicken catchers – as noted quite frequently in earlier postings.

PEA Joins DA, NE, 5HT, and Glutamate as Relevant Neurotransmitters In Evaluation of ADHD
Here are a quick few files to review when you wonder why the meds just aren't working.

  1.  8 Excellent PEA references from
  2. NeuroScience pdf on ADHD, meds and PEA.
  3. Phenylethylamine [PEA] modulation of affect: therapeutic and diagnostic implications – J Neuropsychiatry Clin Neurosci 1995 Winter; 7(1):6-14
  4. Notes on psych drugs and PEA with References
  5. PEA Neurotransmitter Review in pdf [Brief – only 6 references]

What The Public Is Saying
These notes will provide some enlightening homework to help you move forward from the simplicity of only meds – especially when multiple meds are not working. If you watch the comments here, many posts with over 100 comments, the ADHD problems with refractory response to ADHD medications may prove to be based upon metabolic challenges that alter these other NTs, often in dramatic ways.

Neurotransmitter testing with urine can turn the treatment tide. Even if NT testing isn't completely predictable, it's better than guesswork and can reveal these specific imbalances.

Dr Charles Parker
Author: New ADHD Medication Rules – Brain Science & Common Sense
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  1. Kaiayana says:

    Dr Parker,

    I have followed your website and practice around ADHD. I have ADHD, I am 53 years old and was diagnosed when 2 of my sons were. I plan to do the N Transmitter testing when I can afford it. Here is my question:

    I am primarily inattentive type. Does Strattera help with this subtype?

    (Background) I have used Vyvanse (makes me depressed), Adderall – bounce all over the place, Concerta – makes me sleepy, Methylphenidate (long and short) – short acting works but I seemed to build a tolerance. I have also used Broprohion with a stimulant and I don’t have the crash when I have used it with vyvanse. I feel like nothing REALLY works, it just makes it more tolerable.

    • Kalayana,
      Without an evaluation I am completely speculating, and don’t wish to leave you with any firm advice – as it appears that you very likely suffer with a comorbid metabolic challenge – meaning you have something else standing in the way metabolically or you wouldn’t suffer with so many side effects across the board on different stimulant families [MPH and AMP].

      Strattera is likely to suffer the same consequences, and you are likely to have difficulties with medications in general based upon this experience… Am I right on that?

  2. Tiffany says:

    Your links are not working, I am doing a mid-term speech on the benefits of consuming PEA – can you let me know what it does, in english (dumber version) to patients with ADHD?

    I would greatly appreciate a response very soon, as my information is due tomorrow noon.

    Thanks 🙂

    Also I found your website which will help me wonderfully as I just learned I have ADHD as well.

    • Tiffany,
      Sorry, this post is from 3 years ago. CinchCasts, regrettably closed, after I spend many hours recording easy lessons there. So that was one link, I removed it. I don’t have time to go thru every link now, but did find time to add this important PEA link for your reading pleasure:

      PEA is one of the 4 main excitatory NTs that clearly help PFC function and fix unbalanced ADHD problems. DL-phenylalanine is the precursor as outlined in the pdf and, after measurement, can be added successfully to an ADHD treatment program to correct PEA deficiencies if ADHD medications aren’t working as anticipated.

      Hope this helps. If reading thru you send me any other bad links I will correct them.

  3. John Carter says:

    Hi Charles,

    Vyvanse and dexedrine boosters have been working well for the first year but now I find I’m getting over focused, anxious at times and the meds simply not working that well. I’m wondering if I have adrenal fatigue, what supplements do you suggest I take to sort this out?, i notice you sell a whole range.

    I take supplements for my gut already and drink high PH level water and juice every day, so hydration isn’t a problem plus I drink 90g of protein a day. I was taking 70g of Vynvanse without a problem and 10g of Dexedrine in afternoon, it seems I can only take half that dose at present because of strange side effects that started to happen out of the blue. Strange why this would happen, perhaps not to you, I’m also wondering about my neurotransmitters if there has been a depletion there also, any recommendations to solve this issue so my meds start working like they used too so well??


    • John,
      One of the key overlooked challenges we see all the time, that does occur over time, is the downstream effect of metabolic change. I really must do a video soon about the process.

      What often happens:
      The bowel, over time slows down, and Bowel Transit Time, measured w downloads from this site, deteriorates for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is relative constipation secondary to the meds or to diminished food. Result: slow bowel, with BM every 2 days, liver back up secondary to Transit Time slowing, and resultant medication accumulation because of liver metabolic slowing. I can’t give you a reference at this moment, but correcting that connection works about 80% of the time.

      Yes, neurotransmitter and endocrine corruption occurs downstream from this slowing – which add to the relative med toxicity – leaving the patient feeling that “nothing works.”

  4. […] ADHD and PEA – The Stealth Neurotransmitter | CorePsych Blog […]

  5. Christine says:

    Thank you! Now that I think about it, the chocolate craving may coincide with my hormones, which may have not been portrayed at the exact time of the testing! joy! …or maybe it is really the coffee I crave (have ADHD) AND the fact that dark chocolate is the ONLY ‘desert’ I can have w/o GI probs from Yeast/Egg/Dairy sensitivity! Thank you for the encouragement on the Glutamate levels lowering as my gut heals…trying to wait patiently! In the meantime, I’m learning to enjoy many new strange foods by sparking my interest in novelty -one gift of my ADHD nature! Glad God blessed me w/creativity in the kitchen & a high metabolism… and others still eat my cooking! They just don’t always know whats in it!! My fav deceiving health baked good is a special black bean brownie recipe! haha! =)

  6. Christine V says:

    Traditionally I have craved foods that give me more of what I need. I’m extremely sensitive to anything I put in my body, and slow/poor metabolizer via cyp450-2D6 issues. That being said, I used to crave milk etc for precursor tryptophan to convert to 5-HTP to Seretonin. My lab work w/you showed up very low in Seretonin. As instructed, I take the supplements & med to help w/Seretonin production now. I’m high in Glutamate & seem sensitive to it, explaining why I get headaches from those supplements (athletic or otherwise) AND from anything containing MSG. I also don’t eat much sugar/carbs (i utilize paleo/south beach/Low GI diets in addition to allergy changes)…so I DONT crave sugar at all. I use Stevia as coffee sweetener & some agave. My labs from NeuroScience showed me being very low in PEA and I know it metabolizes quickly, however, I notice regularly that I crave a mix of dark chocolate & coffee. I can take or leave the sugar- so I wonder if its my body, just like all the other instances above, trying to get what it needs. Since I seem to be allergic to everything else dairy, eggs, yeast, honey, etc…AND I exercise everyday & am very fit… I figure that this one indulgence is acceptable given that Dark Chocolate is higher in Phenylalanine (precursor to PEA)? or is it actually Phenylethylamine already? Just curious. Don’t worry about justifying my eating chocolate, haha!

    • Christine
      Usually the PEA is high with chocolate craving, not low! Will be important to look a DL-phenylalanine for the PEA deficiency. Glutamate is almost always elevated with immune system dysregulation – and will settle as the gut heals. Excellent on the low Gly diet!

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