Why Anandamide is Relevant in Cannabis Science

A chemical similar to THC synthesized in the human body.

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Being fairly new in the realm of chemical and brain science, anandamide was discovered in 1992 by Raphael Mechoulam during his investigations into CB1 and CB2 receptors.  

 

What is Anandamide? 

 

Anandamide, also called N-arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA), is an endocannabinoid; a lipid-based retrograde neurotransmitter synthesized within the human body producing effects similar to THC. It binds to both CB1 and CB2 receptors, regulating a variety of conditions via the central and peripheral nervous system which we are still exploring through current studies. Thus far, we've discovered AEA plays a role in: 

  • Eating patterns.
  • Sleeping patterns
  • Pain relief
  • Memory
  • Fertility

 Discover More: About CB1 & CB2 Receptors

Anandamide is often called the "bliss molecule" because of its ability to enhance mood, the word "ananda" meaning either extreme delight or bliss in Sanskrit. Just six years after its discovery, a team of Italian scientists found anandamide "inhibits human breast cancer cell proliferation." 

 

Expanding Cannabis Knowledge

 

Upon the discovery of the endocannabinoid system which include CB1 and CB2 receptors, questions arose as to why such a system is found in the human body; what function/purpose does it serve? If there are receptors throughout our nervous system that react to THC and other cannabinoids found in cannabis, it would only make sense our own body would produce some kind of endogenous chemical that also binds to such receptors. 

Such questions led to the discovery of not only AEA, but 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) as well - another endocannabinoid found at high levels in the central nervous system that bind to CB1 receptors. As studies followed, they began to confirm AEA's effects are quite similar to those of THC. Putting together the pieces of this biological puzzle has taken decades, but scientists are beginning to understand we have more links to the cannabis plant than ever perceived.

 Learn More: Timeline: Discovering the Endocannabinoid System

Looking closer at the human endocannabinoid system along with endocannabinoids such as AEA and 2-AG will not only shed light onto understanding our own biology, but into the realms of cannabis science we've only scratched the surface of. 

 Study: Modulation of the Endocannabinoids N-Arachidonoylethanolamine (AEA) and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) on Executive Functions in Humans

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