Cannabis is widely known for its influential cannabinoids and their vast range of healing characteristics and medical benefits for the human body. However, it is interesting to learn that the body actually produces its own cannabinoids, which are responsible for certain processes and functions. One of these naturally occurring cannabinoids in the body which regularly communicates with the endocannabinoid system is anandamide.
Anandamide is more special than its name suggests as it plays a significant role in helping us feel the one emotion that most people are after – happiness. You have probably noticed that while some people occur naturally in a constantly happy mood, others have to do some hard work to reach to state and often struggle to maintain this condition for long. But why is that?
Let’s see what anandamide is in detail and discuss how it affects the body’s functions.
Originating from the Sanskrit word Ananda meaning bliss, anandamide is a naturally produced cannabinoid in the body. In that sense, we can say that anandamide is the body’s equivalent to cannabis. The endocannabinoid was discovered mainly thanks to THC – the psychoactive compound in cannabis, in attempts to explain how chemicals played to role of keys for the endocannabinoid system’s receptors. Our endocannabinoid system and its receptors are responsible for things like mood, emotions such as fear, anxiety, happiness, and the ability of the body to cope with stress and anandamide is an important factor that can trigger these emotions.
The level of anandamide in the body will determine a person’s state and imbalance in these levels or lack of anandamide can be the cause for conditions such as depression or schizophrenia. On the other hand, higher levels of anandamide lead to feelings of happiness and satisfaction. It is also responsible for reward, appetite, pain management, and reproduction.
Anandamide and the endocannabinoid system
We mentioned that anandamide is part of the endocannabinoid system but what is its true purpose there?
It is important to understand that the endocannabinoid system comprises of cannabinoids and CB1 and CB2 receptors, While CB2 receptors dominate in the brain, CB2 receptors are mainly located in the body. Anandamide’s function is to attach to these receptors and to TRPV-1 receptors. There are other types of cannabinoids known as phytocannabinoids or those found in cannabis such as CBD, THC, CBG and more, which can also interact with these receptors. Certain enzymes assist with the separation of the cannabinoids and their breakdown. When looking at anandamide specifically, the enzyme FAAH is required for its breakage.
What is intriguing is that CBD, a dominant cannabinoid found in cannabis, constrains the FAAH enzyme, leading to a rise in the level of anandamide in the body. So why is anandamide important for the body and what are its effects?
Anandamide’s effects on the body
Anandamide has many important roles in the human body and without it, things would certainly not be the same. As we touched upon earlier, anandamide is related to reducing pain, managing one’s mood, appetite, memory, but also plays a role in cell regulation. The spread of CB1 and CB2 receptors throughout the body is extraordinary and anandamide may even be responsible for additional functions that we are not yet aware of.
Studies on rats in 1999 showed anandamide’s ability to boost appetite. Once rats were injected in anandamide, they showed an increased desire for food even after they were already fed. In humans, this can be extremely useful for patients suffering from depression or other serious health conditions, where appetite is harmed and could potentially lead to a weaker immune system.
Sense of reward
Although reward in humans is closely associated with dopamine due to the dopamine neurons in the brain, the reward pathway also includes cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids, anandamide included. Another study on rats proved anandamide’s ability to influence the reward pathway in the brain and trigger emotions related to food rewards.
Maintaining a positive mood is at the core of most human’s life goals. The regulation of our mood is controlled via the endocannabinoid system and its receptors. Higher levels of anandamide have given signals of improved mood and therefore the cannabinoid is related to treating anxiety and depression. Anandamide can be of help when coping with stress and developing fore resilience.
One of anandamide’s most popular characteristics is its pain-relieving abilities, making it a natural pain killer. Studies have demonstrated that anandamide is released in response to pain. Standard medications for pain relief are often accompanied by a range of potential side-effects. What better way to stay safe and avoid discomfort than to produce your own pain killers?
Anandamide is a powerful natural cannabinoid produced by the body that can significantly improve certain conditions, which define our overall condition.