Anandamide, that neurotransmitter that gives us “runner’s high”, shares something pretty amazing with cannabidiol (CBD), they are both cannabinoids! Amazingly, CBD’s ability to play a helpful role in treating numerous conditions has much to do with how it interacts with Anandamide, often referred to as the “bliss molecule” for the feelings of happiness and relaxation it triggers when released.
Anandamide and CBD are both cannabinoids?
Sounds crazy, but it’s true! The reason cannabinoids produced by plants like hemp―called phytocannabinoids―can interact with our bodily systems in the first place is because they mimic cannabinoids produced by our own bodies called endocannabinoids, which means cannabinoids produced endogenously.
Why is Anandamide important?
Anandamide is important because it is involved in numerous critical functions regulated by our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is distributed throughout the body and is the system that regulates all other bodily functions including sleep, mood, digestion, immune function and more.
The main purpose of the ECS is to promote homeostasis―a state of internal balance in which all of the body’s systems function optimally. Anandamide plays a crucial role in this process, and helps to promote homeostasis.
Anandamide is also important because when anandamide levels fall too low it can have a profound effect on our psychology. Studies show anandamide is associated with everything from depression to schizophrenia.
How does anandamide work exactly?
Anandamide functions by binding to endocannabinoid system receptors like CB1 and CB2, where they can help regulate appetite, pain, fertility as well as promote neurogenesis―the growth of new nerve cells.
Researchers at the University of Calgary found that higher anandamide levels correlated to a greater capacity for “extinction learning” in both humans and animals. This is important because “extinction learning” is the process whereby our brains extinguish fear-based memories, thereby reducing fear responses to associated stimuli. This is important because a strong ability for “extinction learning” reduces overall anxiety.
Optimal anandamide levels correlate strongly to feelings of wellbeing and happiness, and the reverse is true; low anandamide levels correlate to depression and anxiety.
Additionally, anandamide plays an important role in pregnancy. A study published in Human Reproduction indicated higher levels of anandamide during ovulation could be a contributing factor to successful pregnancies.
CBD and Anandamide, What’s the Connection?
We need more research to fully understand how these two compounds work together as the science is quite young. At this early stage, it is thought that CBD helps maintain healthy anandamide levels in various ways.
Researchers at Indiana University found CBD helps promote anandamide synthesis.
Research shows CBD appears to block the enzyme responsible for breaking anandamide down―FAAH. This helps anandamide persist at higher levels in our bodies.
CBD may also help prevent anandamide getting removed from receptors where they are engaged by FABPs, a kind of intracellular transporter molecule. CBD’s influence allows anandamide to remain engaged with receptors for longer periods.
Take CBD to boost anandamide, and health.
Most people don’t appreciate how important homeostasis is. It’s now commonly understood that chronic imbalances―basically a lack of homeostasis―are the root of most diseases, especially when it involves chronic inflammation.
By helping to boost anandamide levels and their persistence in our neurological system, we can help promote homeostasis in our bodies.
Boosting anandamide also has a wealth of potential benefits for mental health conditions as well. More research is coming online indicating that anandamide-boosting CBD may be helpful in treating everything from ADHD, to schizophrenia, to symptoms of cognitive impairment and even cannabis withdrawal symptoms.
Much more research is needed before the FDA allows CBD to be prescribed for the conditions mentioned, but early results are promising. Researchers are clamoring for more well-designed, large-scale studies so we can develop more targeted, effective treatments.
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