Blog

Anandamide-The Joy Chemical

As we have discussed last time, the name Anandamide has been taken from the Sanskrit word ananda, which means “joy, bliss, delight, etc.,” and added to amide. This article is not for the students of biochemistry, but for laymen who want to know about anandamide in a simple manner; especially in connection with happiness.

In the late 1980s, receptors were found in the brain for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the primary psychoactive component or active ingredient in marijuana. But since THC doesn’t naturally occur in the body, the presence of these receptors puzzled scientists. The mystery was solved a few years later with the discovery of arachidonylethanolamide, later called anandamide. Hence, some experts called it the “brain’s own marijuana.” Anandamide was isolated and its structure was first described in 1992 by W. A. Devane, Lumír Hanuš etal. who were working in a team led by Raphael Mechoulam at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Anandamide is a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that binds to the THC receptors. It’s been called the “bliss molecule.” As anandamide is a euphoriant, I prefer to call it the “joy chemical,” as when this chemical is released, one feels really joyful. In one way, bliss and joy may mean the same; but otherwise bliss is a much superior word having heavenly meaning.

Anandamide’s effects can occur in either the central or peripheral nervous system. Studies are under way to explore what role anandamide plays in human behavior, such as eating and sleep patterns, and pain relief. It does have some analgesic effects. There are various physiological functions of anandamide; such as, it is important for implantation of the early stage embryo, it plays a role in the regulation of feeding behaviour, and so forth. A study published in 1998 shows that anandamide inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation. However, here we are basically concern with the effects of anandamide on happiness, in some way or the other.

It has been established that anandamide plays an important role in the neural generation of motivation and pleasure. Somehow or the other, anandamide gives rise to joyfulness. Therefore, it has been suggested that a new compound could potentially be developed into a drug that would increase the brain’s anandamide levels to help treat anxiety and depression.

How to Produce Anandamide Naturally

Adequate production of anandamide obviously has a lot of general health and mental health benefits. Here are some ways to increase your levels naturally:


Physical Exercise

It has been shown that aerobic exercise causes an increase in plasma anandamide levels, where the magnitude of this increase is highest at moderate exercise intensity. It has been proposed that anandamide partly mediates the short-term mood-lifting effects of exercise (e.g., the euphoria of a runner’s high). If you are a runner, you may have experienced runner’s high. While usually attributed to endorphins, this theory is starting to fall out of favor. One reason is that endorphin molecules are too large to pass across the blood-brain barrier and get into the brain. Research done at the University of Arizona concluded that endocannabinoids, including anandamide, are more likely the cause for runner’s high. As a matter of fact, any type of exercise that includes sustained running; like playing some game, will activate the release of anandamide.

If you are not a runner, I recommend jog-walk (alternating as per your capacity), cycling, swimming, dancing, playing any game that involves running, even brisk-walk and long-walk, cardio, aerobics, and so forth.


Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the most beloved foods on the planet. It’s rare to meet anyone who doesn’t enjoy chocolate. In 1996, researchers discovered anandamide in chocolate. However, it’s also speculated that anandamide may explain why chocolate is the number one food craving; especially for women.

According to research done at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California, “Chocolate contains pharmacologically active substances that have the same effect on the brain as marijuana…”


Meditation

Any form of meditation is fine, but I recommend our Hypno-Meditation (HM), which is scientifically designed to bring down the brain waves and at the same time using the ancient principles of Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation or focusing on some thought/s) and Samadhi (deep absorption).

What happens in the brain during meditation? The emotional effects of sitting, quieting and going within are profound. The deep state of rest produced by meditation triggers the brain to release various neurotransmitters, which are linked to different aspects of happiness. Anandamide is greatly released in a deep state of meditation.