Oleoylethanolamide (OEA) is quickly becoming a popular weight loss supplement with claims it can help not only weight loss but also reduce food cravings and burn fat. But, what is OEA and does it really work? Where is the proof? In this OEA review, you'll learn about the weight loss evidence and its mechanism of action. If you decide to try it, you'll also learn how much might help you too. Is OEA a weight-loss miracle or just another scam? Let's see what we can discover.
What is OEA?
Oleoylethanolamide (OEA) is a type of fatty acid that's made in various areas of the body such as:
- fat cells
- small intestine
- brain cells
It's a breakdown product of fat. Small amounts are made by people all the time. The compound is also found in some weight loss supplements like RiduZone.
How Do You Pronounce It?
The word is pronounced this way: oh-lea-oil-eth-an-oh-amIde.
How Does OEA Work
Essentially it's supposed to help people feel less hungry. By helping people feel full, they eat less. The way it's supposed to work is by activating a receptor in the intestine called PPAR alpha. When it activates PPAR alpha, this causes a signal to be sent to the brain via the vagus nerve. The nerve signal goes to the part of the brain called the hypothalamus which plays a role in eating behavior.
The oleoylethanolamide molecule looks like compounds made in the endocannabinoid system of the body but it is not the same thing as cannabinoids like CBD or THC. Oleoylethanolamide does not bond to endocannabinoid receptors. As such, it does not get people high like THC in cannabis can.
Foods With it Oleoylethanolamide
Any food containing oleic acid will boost your OEA production. Food sources of OEA include:
- Cocoa powder
You also make OEA after consuming olive oil. The amounts in food are measured in micrograms, which far less than what dietary supplements contain. Supplements usually have dosages in the range of 100-200 mg per one or two capsules.
Here's a quick video which summaries the OEA weight loss evidence
OEA Weight Loss Evidence
When given to mice, OEA curbs appetite by reducing food intake and causes the mice to lose weight. While most of the weight loss evidence stems from lab animals there is some human evidence too.
In one investigation, researchers in Iran followed 60 overweight people for two months. Half of the people took a placebo while the other half took 250 mg of OEA per day (1 capsule containing 125 mg twice per day). The researchers observed that OEA supplements promoted the following results
- reduced body weight
- lower body fat
- reduced waist circumference
- reduced BMI
In addition, people taking the supplement reported less hunger, felt more full and had cravings for sweets too. In terms of weight loss, those taking the supplement lost about 2 pounds over the course of the 60-day study.
There is also preliminary evidence involving the combination of OEA with EGCG (an extract of green tea). This combination of ingredients is abbreviated as NOPE. Because EGCG is also marketed to help weight loss (I'm skeptical), it's difficult to know if the weight loss was due to the combination or either of these two ingredients alone.
How Much OEA For Weight Loss?
While the optimal dosage needs more research, if OEA really works, the amount to look for is 100-250 mg per day. This is based on both lab animal and human studies. One human study has demonstrated weight loss with 250 mg per day. This is two 125 mg capsules taken twice per day. As with any new supplements you take, it's wise to start with less for the first week in case you have side effects.
OEA Side Effects
So far, human studies report no side effects from OEA supplements. Because everyone is different if you are going to try this supplement, here are some general suggestions. This list is not complete:
- start with less than recommended for the first week to see how you respond
- stop taking at least two weeks before having surgery
- if you take medications like blood thinners, talk to your doctor first
- if you take blood sugar medications for diabetes, speak to your doctor
- don't take while pregnant or breastfeeding
Other Options For Weight Loss
While it's good to see some human studies, I'd like to see a few more. Because supplements containing OEA may be expensive, I think more affordable options may be better. For example,
- Lipozene. This dietary supplement contains a fiber called glucomannan which some studies show can help people lose weight. The supplement contains the dosage used in human trials.
- Metamucil. This fiber supplement contains psyllium, a fiber that can help people feel full and curb appetite.
Of course, simpler still is eating more fruits and vegetables which also help because they have fewer calories.
What Else Does It Do?
Preliminary studies suggest OEA may help reduce inflammation, pain and induce apoptosis, which programmed cell death of cells no longer needed by the body. There's also evidence it may improve memory improve sleep and alter the gut microbiome. Most of the evidence for this other benefits is not based on human evidence so more study is needed.
Oleoylethanolamide vs. Palmitoylethanolamide
Palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) is another member of the endocannabinoid family of molecules. While they are structurally similar, they are different from each other. While PEA also activates PPAR alpha receptors, it's not usually marketed for weight loss. Instead, PEA supplements are promoted to reduce inflammation and pain relief. Some human research suggests it may help although more research is needed.
Does OEA Help Weight Loss
At least one human study has noted weight loss and reduced appetite and cravings with OEA supplements. While that is good keep in mind the amount of weight that was lost was a couple of pounds. Don't expect to drop 10 pounds in a month by only taking a supplement. If oleoylethanolamide is going to work, the benefits are likely maximized by combining it with eating better and exercise.