Anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid created naturally within our bodies, was discovered thanks to pioneering cannabis research conducted in the 1960s. Known as ‘the bliss molecule’, anandamide plays a role in our moods, appetite, sleep patterns, and memory.
Anandamide has a close molecular resemblance to THC, making it a unique point of interest to the world’s cannabis researchers and scientists.
The more we learn about anandamide, the more we can understand about how CBD and cannabis could be beneficial to human health.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complicated network of enzymes, receptors, and molecules that work in synergy to help regulate and maintain homeostasis within our bodies.
This balance allows organs, systems, and cells to function at their best. Vertebrates and humans all have an endocannabinoid system, and this system has evolved throughout our ancestry.
The endocannabinoid system was first discovered when scientists attempted to understand how cannabis interacts with the human body.
The research found that cannabinoids are present outside our bodies (exogenously) such as CBD and THC, which are derived from cannabis and that our bodies create cannabinoids of their own.
Our natural cannabinoids work as keys to an entire network of receptors inside us and have the potential to unlock some fantastic properties.
They assist our bodies with regulating several functions, including sleep, mood regulation, appetite, immune function, and neuro-protection.
One of the cannabinoids that we create naturally is anandamide, which is one of the essential cannabinoids in our ECS.
Within our bodies, anandamide behaves similarly to cannabinoids that we consume via cannabis and CBD products.
Anandamide helps our endocannabinoid system to perform the crucial function of regulating and maintaining homeostasis.
What Is Anandamide?
The word ‘anandamide’ comes from the Sanskrit ‘ananda’, which can roughly be translated as ‘bliss’, or ‘joy’, which indicates cannabinoids properties as a mood enhancer.
Also known as N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA), anandamide works with the body’s CB receptors very similarly to THC.
It’s a cannabinoid receptor and neurotransmitter binding agent that works as a signal messenger for all the CB receptors located throughout the body.
Celebrated chemist Dr Raphael Mecholam, famed for this groundbreaking research on cannabinoids, first discovered anandamide when trying to answer the question: Why do our bodies have cannabinoid receptors that have the capability of binding to external cannabinoids like CBD and THC?
Inside our bodies, anandamide is created ‘on-demand’ and is used when needed to maintain homeostasis.
This occurs when anandamide helps to regulate neuron signalling and inflammation.
As Anandamide is created, it binds with our CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors just like THC does when it is ingested.
However, anandamide is molecularly fragile, meaning it is broken down easily and leaves the body quickly.
What is the Importance of Anandamide?
Because anandamide can bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors, it has a profound impact on a range of physiological mechanisms.
This includes mood fluctuation, pain management, fertility, and appetite stimulation.
When anandamide activities and binds to our bodies cannabinoid receptors in places our bodies in the pursuit of homeostasis.
When our organs, systems, and cells start to move away from their balance points, our endocannabinoid systems kick back in.
As this happens, our bodies change to balance themselves into homeostasis. To achieve this condition of balance, all of our systems have to be in the correct order to maintain perfect cellular performance.
Anandamide helps to contribute to homeostatic regulation by binding to our CB receptors and stimulating the development of nerve cells in the brain.
This process is called neurogenesis, which is vital because the creation of new nerve cells within the brain is crucial for essential functions like learning and memory.
The Benefits of Anandamide
Since anandamide was discovered, studies have shown exciting results when participants are exposed to large amounts of this ‘bliss’ molecule.
In 2015, a study on mice and humans revealed that high anandamide levels helped to reduce fear and enhance the mood. In both mice and humans, inhibited the production of enzymes responsible for breaking anandamide down also helped to decrease levels of anxiety and fear during stressful times.
Another study published in 2009 indicated that high anandamide levels are crucial for ovulation and the fluctuation of anandamide throughout the gestational period can harm fetal development.
The same study revealed that high levels of anandamide during ovulation could directly contribute to a successful pregnancy.
Anandamide levels increase in the bloodstream when people complete rigorous exercise, contributing to the theory of the ‘runners high’, that is associated with prolonged periods of physical activity.
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