Anandamide: The Bliss Molecule

On Valentine’s Day, you’ll hear a lot of science folks talk about how hormones like oxytocin, serotonin, estrogen and testosterone all work together to make a person feel love. Just like your body produces those chemicals, it can also produce its own cannabinoids – called endocannabinoids.

Humans are equipped with our own cannabinoid system that allows our bodies to use plant-based THC and CBD molecules in addition to naturally produced endocannabinoids.

One of those endocannabinoids is anandamide, often responsible for the elevation you feel at accomplishing a task or obstacle. That runner’s high you feel after a 5K? That’s anandamide – named for the Sanskrit word for ‘bliss.’ Anandamide, as part of the endocannabinoid system, also helps regulate memory, motivation and movement.

But what if your body is lacking in anandamide? That’s where research suggests that plant-based cannabinoids – such as THC and CBD – may be able to help.

THC and CBD work on receptors in the endocannabinoid system, similar to cannabinoids found in your body. CB1 receptors are located in the brain and central nervous system, while CB2 receptors are found in the tissues and cells of the immune system. THC acts on the CB1 receptors, while CBD works on CB2.

Anandamide also binds to CB1 receptors. Because it’s endogenous to our bodies, anandamide has an enzyme that helps clear out the cannabinoid when it’s no longer needed. But what happens when you don’t have enough anandamide? That’s where plant-based cannabinoids like THC and CBD can come into play.

If you want to learn more about the endocannabinoid system and therapeutic possibilities with THC and CBD, check out Dr. Blake Pearson’s Cannabis 101 video on CannabIs_Medicine, Tilray’s information hub.

Research has barely scratched the surface of what we could potentially know about the endocannabinoid system, cannabis and anandamide. So today, when you get that burst of happiness or elation, it might just be your bliss molecule!