Phenylethylamine: characteristics of this neurotransmitter

When we go through specific stages in our life, our bodies synthesize different types of chemicals or “natural drugs”. The stage of falling in love is one of them, where large amounts of phenylethylamine are produced.

Phenylethylamine is an organic compound belonging to the amphetamine group. In this article, we will know its characteristics, effects and what factors can trigger its synthesis.

    Phenylethylamine: characteristics of this neurotransmitter

    Phenylethylamine is an essential amino acid which acts as a neurotransmitter. It is an organic compound produced by the brain, belonging to the amphetamine group. It is a natural medicine made by the body itself and which stimulates the nervous system.

    At the chemical level, its structure is also found in complex ring systems such as ergoline (LSD) or morphine (morphine).

    Falling in love could have been or started with this molecule, phenylethylamine, which causes elation, joy and euphoria. Thus, the biochemical substance is considered “responsible for love”, because when we fall in love or when we are overexcited, the body increases its production. So much so that large amounts of phenylethylamine are found in the urine when falling in love.

    this it can be traced back to loss of appetite, euphoria and the ability of a person in love to go without sleep.As happens at this emotional stage.

    loving disenchantment

    When “our hearts are broken” or when this love is not reciprocated, after this phase of euphoria of the first stage, a period of “depression”, sadness or lethargy arises. these symptoms they are very similar to those appearing in withdrawal syndrome of a person addicted to amphetamines.

    At this point, the individual naturally stops producing phenylethylamine. As we will see later, chocolate can be a good ally right now because it contains phenylethylamine.

    Other associated chemicals

    But continuing with the stage of falling in love (or when they correspond to us emotionally in terms of love), that’s when the brain is inundated with this natural drug, phenylethylamine.

    Outraged, dopamine levels also increase, An excitatory neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure as well as levels of norepinephrine and oxytocin. In turn, dopamine influences the field of physical and mental energy (concentration and the ability to retrieve memories).

    For its part, oxytocin is responsible for the contractions of the uterus to give birth and to flow milk to breastfeed the baby, in addition to being a chemical messenger of sexual desire.

    Likewise, phenylethylamine helps produce other neurotransmitters, And is responsible for people in love can invest a lot of energy in thinking about their loved one, or even having sex without feeling hungry or drowsy, or even losing track of time. It is as if the body “loses” the ability to feel tired or endures many more active hours.


    In the 1980s, phenylethylamine was first studied for its influence on the feeling of love. The first investigations were carried out at the Psychiatric Institute of New York (USA), by Dr Donald F. Klein and Michael Lebowitz.

    These researchers suggested that a lover’s brain contains large amounts of phenylethylamine. In addition, they said that it is responsible for the change of reactions in the body of the person at the physiological level, but also at the psychological level.

    Klein and Lebowitz, in their theory, also state that the production of phenylethylamine in the brain it can be triggered by an exchange of glances, a rub or a handshake. When this happens, the brain of the person in love responds with sensations and physiological changes responsible for the acts and sensations of romantic love.

    These sensations or responses are wakefulness, “drowsiness”, lack of appetite, and extreme happiness (or euphoria). These sensations are similar to those of using certain drugs like cannabis, hilarious mushrooms or amphetamines.

    to fall in love

    On the other hand, falling in love itself is not eternal and is limited in time. At the level of the organism, this is understandable, since this I couldn’t take it too long with this level of activation or excitement (Or if you accept it, it would end up being harmful). In other words, falling in love can last for weeks, months, or even in some cases, years.

    Thus, the body gradually balances this chemical vortex and a more stable stage appears, the stage of love.

      What substances and situations increase your levels?

      As we have seen, when there are high concentrations of phenylethylamine in the brain, B-endorphins, opioid peptides, are also released which fuel the secretion of neurotransmitters like dopamine.

      Phenylethylamine can be produced and activated by ingestion of certain medications, foods or supplements. It is also triggered by certain emotions or stages (such as falling in love), or by certain physical and / or pleasurable sensations that produce certain specific stimuli (for example a look).

      Sport also produces the release of endorphins, as well as listening to music that you like or exposure to light.

      Some of the foods that activate phenylethylamine are chocolate (Phenylethylamine carrier; produces psychoactive effects) or certain types of cheese like Stilton (a variety of lactose). It is an English cheese, which is only produced in three English counties (Derbyshire, Leicestershine and Nottinghamshire).

      Also included are bananas, eggs, raw soybeans, lentils, Almonds and nuts.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Freyman, R. (2011). Do you like the perfect future? Science Ergo Sum, 18 (2), 187-191. Autonomous University of the State of Mexico Toluca, Mexico.
      • Saiz, M. (2015). The phenylethylamine of love. Independent, Magazine specializing in addictions.
      • Stahl, SM (2002). Essential psychopharmacology. Neuroscientific bases and clinical applications. Barcelona: Ariel.

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