Anandamide: the happiness molecule for your brain

Anandamide: the happiness molecule for your brain

In the late 1980s, receptors for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, were discovered in the brain. But since THC does not occur naturally in the body, the existence of these receptors puzzled scientists. The mystery was solved a few years later, when arachidonylethanolamide was discovered, which was later called anandamide.

 

Anandamide is a neurotransmitter produced by the brain that binds to THC receptors. It has been called the “happiness molecule” from the Sanskrit word Ananda according to which means joy, bliss or happiness. It has been considered an endocannabinoid – a substance produced by the body that binds to cannabinoid receptors.

 

Before long, anandamide was found to do much more than produce a happier state of being. It is synthesized in areas of the brain that are important for memory, advanced thinking and movement. It plays a significant role in regulating pain, appetite and fertility. It also prevents the proliferation of cancer cells.

 

By increasing neurogenesis – the creation of new nerve cells – anandamide appears to have both anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties. Anandamide, like all neurotransmitters, is fragile and breaks down quickly in the body, which is why it does not produce a constant state of bliss.

 

Anandamide, cannabis and memory

 

Dr. Gary L. Wenk is a leading expert on chronic brain inflammation and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, he has researched whether smoking cannabis can prevent memory loss caused by both normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease. He has been surprised and excited to discover that cannabis seems to protect against memory loss that comes with aging.

 

According to Dr. Wenk, the high number of anandamide receptors indicates the importance of that neurotransmitter in regulating brain function. He has discovered that by stimulating the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, the brain can be protected by reducing inflammation and increasing neurogenesis. He argues that in later life, cannabis may actually help the aging brain rather than harm it.

 

Usually we don’t think cannabis is good for our brain, and especially not for memory,” Wenk points out. “How could a drug that clearly impairs memory in people under its influence protect the brain from the effects of aging? The answer probably has to do with the functioning of young and old brains and a host of age-related changes in brain chemistry. When we are young, we influence the formation of new memories by stimulating the brain’s cannabinoid receptors. However, later in life, the brain gradually shows increasing evidence of inflammation and a dramatic reduction in the production of new neurons, which are important in the development of new memories.”

 

Another factor in determining whether cannabis has a beneficial or detrimental effect on memory is dosage. Apparently, very little cannabis is required to improve memory in old brains. Dr. Wenk’s colleague summed it up in the phrase “one smoke is enough”, as it is enough to significantly improve memory in older people.

 

How to add anandamide – the happiness molecule to your brain

 

The existence of anandamide clearly has many general health and mental health benefits. Here are a few ways to increase levels naturally.

 

Chocolate

 

Chocolate is one of the most loved foods on the planet. It’s rare to meet someone who doesn’t enjoy chocolate. Chocolate is loved for its taste and creamy texture, and for its ability to make you instantly happy. Chocolate is known to contain more than 300 chemical compounds and scientists have been diligently trying to find out the biochemical origin of its appeal.

 

It is well known that chocolate contains caffeine, which improves mood, and phenylethylamine, called the “love molecule”, which stimulates the feeling of love. It also contains theobromine, a substance comparable to coffee, which acts as a relaxant rather than a stimulant. It has been hypothesized that theobromine causes the brain to produce more anandamide.

 

Chocolate is supposed to contain both anandamide and components that slow down its degradation (N-acylethanolamines). This gives the net result of anandamide, which is responsible for the temporary feeling of happiness that follows eating chocolate.

 

However, anandamide has been hypothesized to be the reason why chocolate is the primary food for cravings. It used to be believed that women in particular craved chocolate because of its relatively high magnesium content, but there may be another, more strongly influencing factor. According to a study conducted at the San Diego Neuroscience Institute in California “Chocolate contains pharmacologically active substances that have effects on the brain similar to cannabis, and these chemicals may play a role in certain drug-induced psychoses associated with chocolate cravings.”

 

To get the most anandamide from chocolate, one should prefer to eat dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Or what’s even better, you should eat cocoa beans, which are the raw material used to make chocolate. Cacao beans are significantly less processed than the best chocolate, contain no sugar, and are a more concentrated source of chocolate’s beneficial components.

 

Truffles

 

Until recently, chocolate was believed to be the only food that contained anandamide. The perception changed when a group of Italian scientists discovered that black truffles (Tuber melanosporum) also contain it. Interestingly, this fungus produces anandamide, but does not contain receptors for it, which would presumably trigger some sort of biological effect. Because of this, researchers believe that truffles would produce anandamide as a mechanism to attract animals to eat them, thus promoting the spread by releasing fungal spores.

 

Truffles are in high demand among top chefs around the world, but they are difficult to cultivate, so most are found in the wild thanks to truffle hunters and their accompanying truffle-seeking dogs. Traditionally, the use of truffle-seeking pigs is prohibited, as they not only eat the truffles but also trample and damage their growing medium.

The presence of the happiness-producing anandamide explains why truffle-hunting animals seek out the mushroom with such ecstatic enthusiasm!

 

Unless you’re independently wealthy or have your own secret truffle-growing stash, you may want to stick to chocolate or other anandamide-rich foods like celery, broccoli, and tea. Truffles are so expensive that it can shock you permanently. Black truffles currently go for $95 an ounce, but are a bargain compared to white truffles that cost almost twice as much!

 

Flow mode

 

What is something you love to do so much that time seems to disappear? This state of heightened attention, super-focus and peak performance is called being in the “zone” or “flow state”. Flow is defined as “the optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.” During the flow state, the brain releases large amounts of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine, endorphins and anandamide.

 

Fitness

 

If you are a runner, you may have experienced “runner’s high”. Although often associated with endorphins, this theory is beginning to lose popularity. One reason is that endorphin molecules are too large to cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain. A study conducted at the University of Arizona found that endocannabinoids, including anandamide, are more likely to cause “runner’s high.”

 

Cannabis? Perhaps

 

Smoking cannabis might seem like a logical option if you want to experience more happiness, since THC clearly attaches to the same receptors as anandamide. But is smoking cannabis the right choice to relieve anxiety, increase happiness or improve memory to everyone? Probably not.

 

When anandamide binds to cannabinoid receptors, it has a calming, anti-anxiety effect on most people to people, but almost 20 percent of the population reacts differently. There is a naturally occurring enzyme called FAAH that deactivates anandamide. Some people have a genetic predisposition to less FAAH, which means they naturally have more anandamide in their brains. These people are generally less anxious and, interestingly, less likely to like cannabis. According to Richard A. Friedman, professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, those with the FAAH gene variant experience happiness decreasing while they smoke cannabis. His position is that when there is more anandamide naturally, there is less need for cannabis.

 

Dr. Friedman, an expert in neurobiology and the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders, has also found that cannabis can be harmful to those suffering from anxiety. “Psychotropic drugs, therapies and relaxation techniques are not for everyone, so what’s wrong with using cannabis to relieve anxiety? The problem is that cannabis overwhelms the brain’s cannabinoid system, and there is evidence that chronic use may not only relieve anxiety, but interfere with learning and memory.”, he notes in a New York Times article.

 

Anandamide is a relatively new discovery and there is still much to learn about how it affects the brain and mood in both healthy people and those with mental or brain disorders. But there is certainly no harm in exercising, being in the “zone” and eating a little chocolate.

*However, if you want to benefit from the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant without the effect of intoxicating THC, you can easily order CBD oil online through a Finnish- language online store .

 

This article was translated from the original by hemp partner Juuso.

The original article can be found here: http://reset.me/story/anandamide-putting-the-bliss-molecule-to-work-for-your-brain/

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The effect of CBD on well-being

The effect of CBD on well-being

CBD’s effect on well-being is versatile. On this page you will find studies on the effects of cannabinoids such as CBD, e.g. for the treatment of depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia and pain conditions.

During the past decades, a significant amount of research has been done on the effects of different cannabinoids. In particular, CBD has been extensively studied using various tests and methods. Several studies have taken into account the relationships of cannabinoids to each other, as well as their effect together and separately. However, research is still in its early stages and it is generally known that the factors affecting the endocannabinoid system are not yet fully understood. However, it has been shown to be true that external cannabinoids can be useful for a wide range of imbalances in the body, both in humans and in other mammals.

Depression

It seems that the endocannabinoid system is involved in the treatment of depression , although its role is not yet fully understood. Based on the published data, the endocannabinoid system provides new ideas and options in the treatment of depression, but further studies are still needed to determine which patient group could benefit from such treatment (1).

A 2018 study published in the journal Molecular Neurobiology concluded that CBD is a promising fast-acting antidepressant. While traditional antidepressants typically take some time to work, a study in rodents showed that CBD had rapid and sustained antidepressant-like effects (2).

There are many individual cases in the world where cannabis has helped research patients in the treatment of depression. In addition, new studies have been conducted that report the importance of the role of the endocannabinoid system in depression, indicating that there is a link between endocannabinoid dysfunction and depression. The TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration ) is known to approve cannabis for patients with depression, which suggests that cannabis plays a role in the treatment of depression (3).

We still lack high-quality clinical studies that emphasize depression or the improvement of depression as the most important outcome. However, there are mouse experiments that show that cannabis can help with depression. Other studies, such as the Sativex studies, have shown a significant improvement in the well-being of people using cannabis medicines (4).

The anti-depressant effects of cannabis, as well as the interaction between antidepressants and the endocannabinoid system, were reported in a study in 2010. The study in question was conducted to evaluate the antidepressant-like effects of delta9-THC and other cannabinoids. The results of the study show that delta9-THC and other cannabinoids have an antidepressant-like effect and can therefore influence the mood-enhancing properties of cannabis (4).

Anxiety

Studies that were conducted on animals and performed various tests such as the forced swim test (FST), Elevated plus maze (EPM) and Vogel conflict test (VCT), suggest that CBD has anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects in research animals (5).

Overall, the existing preclinical evidence strongly supports the potential of CBD in the treatment of anxiety disorders. CBD has multifaceted effects that are relevant in several different areas related to anxiety (6).

Since endocannabinoids appear to play an important role in major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder, the Cannabis sativa plant is suggested for their treatment. The endocannabinoid system covers a wide range of the entire body, including the brain, and is responsible for a wide range of different body functions. The system in question is linked to mood and related disorders. Exogenous cannabinoids can alter its activity. CB1 and CB2 receptors mainly act as binding sites for endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids produced by cannabis flowers. However, cannabis is not a single compound, but is known for its complex molecular profile, which produces numerous phytocannabinoids and many different terpenes. Thus, synergism has a positive effect due to the addition of terpenes to cannabinoids (7).

Read more in the article CBD oil can relieve anxiety .

Stress

A study published in 2018 found that CBD has stress-reducing effects that can reduce stress-related depression. The results of the study suggest that in chronically stressed mice, CBD prevents stress-induced reduced hippocampal neurogenesis and stress-induced angiogenesis, i.e. new blood vessel formation (8). Read more in the article CBD and stress .

Nerve pain

According to the study, cannabidiol (CBD), the significant non-psychoactive component of cannabis, has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects. This study investigated its therapeutic potential in the treatment of neuropathic and inflammatory pain in rats. The results of the study show that CBD has potential for therapeutic use in painful chronic pain conditions (9).

Pain

A 2018 review , Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules , evaluates how well CBD works for chronic pain relief . The review looked at studies conducted between 1975 and March 2018. These studies looked at a variety of pain conditions, including cancer pain, neuropathic pain, and fibromyalgia. Based on these studies, researchers concluded that CBD was effective in general pain management and did not cause negative side effects (10).

Inflammations

One 2017 review found that CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may help with the following conditions (11):

A 2016 study looked at the effect of CBD on rats with arthritis . Researchers found that topical CBD gel reduced joint swelling and pain in rats. No significant side effects resulted from the experiment. Research shows that CBD cosmetics have therapeutic potential for reducing the behavior and inflammation associated with arthritis pain without apparent side effects (12).

Insomnia

Several studies on CBD, anxiety and sleep have found that many patients do not notice a difference immediately. A 2019 study found that subjects took about a month to notice a difference (13). So be patient and remember that the desired results may take time.

The final sample consisted of 72 adults with primary concerns of anxiety (n = 47) or poor sleep (n = 25). Anxiety scores decreased during the first month in 57 patients (79.2%) and remained low during the duration of the study. Sleep quality improved during the first month in 48 patients (66.7%), but varied over time. In this chart review, CBD was well tolerated in all but three patients (13).

CBD may also be promising for those suffering from REM sleep disorders and excessive daytime sleepiness. The synthetic cannabinoid nabilone can reduce PTSD-related nightmares and improve sleep among patients with chronic pain (14).

Read more in the article CBD oil and insomnia .

Effects of CBD on concentration

CBD has several properties that not only improve our general well-being, but also increase concentration and energy. It stimulates the endocannabinoid system, one of whose functions is to regulate attention, memory, concentration and energy. By helping the endocannabinoid system to function better, CBD also helps increase our productivity (15).

If your inattention and inability to concentrate are due to health issues, we strongly recommend that you consult your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. While CBD can help improve concentration, focus, and energy, it is still necessary to find the root cause of your problems in order to properly address it. Your doctor can also help you find the best CBD products for focus or energy and dosage.

Terpenes in the treatment of depression, anxiety and stress

Terpenes found in hemp and their effect on anxiety, depression and stress have also been the subject of research. Terpenes are found especially in the essential oils of hemp, but also in the resin of plants. Terpenes give hemp its characteristic aroma. Listed below are 4 common terpenes and their effects. Note most of the experiments have been done on mice and further studies are needed.

  • Limonene – research shows that the terpene limonene can relieve stress and anxiety (16).
  • Pinene – research shows that the terpene pinene has anti-anxiety effects (17).
  • Linalool – research shows that the smell of linalool can have anxiolytic effects (18).
  • Myrcene – research shows that myrcene has a calming effect (19).

Possible side effects of CBD

Although many studies show that CBD is generally safe, it is worth considering the fact that people are different and that different active ingredients will cause a different reaction in some people than in others. Here you can find information about the possible side effects that CBD may cause in some rare cases.

Side effects are relatively rare. However, some users may experience possible minor side effects such as Below is a list of side effects that have been obtained in the 2019 study’s mouse experiments (20).

  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Change in appetite
  • Weight fluctuation
  • Mood swings
  • Possible interactions with medicines can reduce or strengthen the effect of the medicine.

The text on this page is not intended for product marketing. The website administrator is also not responsible for the correctness of the text and possible errors. The reader should carefully check all the sources appearing in the text. The content of the page is not intended as self-care instructions for any disease or situation. We recommend discussing possible changes in your life situation first together with an expert doctor.

Sources

  1. Ewa Poleszak et al. Cannabinoids in depressive disorders , Life Sciences, Volume 213, 2018
    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0024320518306040
  2. Sales AJ, Fogaça MV, Sartim AG, et al. Cannabidiol induces rapid and sustained antidepressant-like effects through increased BDNF signaling and synaptogenesis in the prefrontal cortex . Mol Neurobiol 56, 1070–1081 (2019). doi:10.1007/s12035-018-1143-4
  3. Wen-Juan Huang et al. Endocannabinoid system: Role in depression, reward and pain control , Mol Med Rep. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5042796/
  4. Abir T. El-Alfy et al. Antidepressant-like effect of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol and other cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis sativa L . Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. Volume 95, Issue 4, 2010. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0091305710000730
  5. Alexandre R de Mello Schier et al. Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa . CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets, 2014. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24923339/
  6. Esther M. Blessing et al. Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders . Neurotherapeutics. 2015. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1?handl_url
  7. Ferber, Sari G. et al. The “Entourage Effect”: Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders . Current Neuropharmacology, Volume 18. Number 2. 2020. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/ben/cn/2020/00000018/00000002/art00004
  8. José A. Crippa et al. Translational Investigation of the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD): Toward a New Age . Front Immunol. 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6161644/
  9. Barbara Costa et al. The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain . Eur J Pharmacol. 2007. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17157290/
  10. Sonja Vučković et al. Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules . Front Pharmacol. 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6277878/
  11. Simona Pisanti. Cannabidiol: State of the art and new challenges for Therapeutic applications . Pharmacol Ther. 2017. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28232276/
  12. DC Hammell et al. Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviors in a rat model of arthritis . Eur J Pain. 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4851925/
  13. Scott Shannon et al. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Perm J. 2019. https://www.healthline.com/health/cbd-for-insomnia#how-to-use
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  15. Ruth E Cooper. Cannabinoids in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A randomized-controlled trial. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2017. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28576350/
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