What makes us the way we are is a combination of different factors, including genes, our environment, our childhoods, and many other countless contributors. However, when it comes to experiencing feelings of happiness there is one small brain chemical referred to as the “bliss” molecule called Anandamide which plays a role in producing these feelings. As well as creating these feelings of happiness, anandamide also affects our overall physical and mental health in a variety of ways.
This chemical is an important endocannabinoid compound produced by the body, which binds to cannabinoid receptors within the brain as well as other parts of the human body.
Health Benefits of Anandamide
It is known that cannabinoid receptors can reside in several different parts of the brain, however, they can also be found in the central nervous system, pancreas, heart, white blood cells, liver, reproductive organs, spleen, gastrointestinal tract and urinary tract. Due to cannabinoid receptors being in so many locations of the body, the effects of anandamide are vast. Anandamide affects our memory, sleep, appetite, and pain relief.
If anandamide levels are low it can increase anxiety, reduce feelings of happiness and can result in feelings of overwhelming stress.
The Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
The endocannabinoid system includes endocannabinoid compounds and their receptors- this system helps in regulating the brain and body- keeping it in a balanced state known as homeostasis. Anandamide is a part of this system, alongside another cannabis-like chemical called 2-AG, as well as other endocannabinoid receptors produced by the body. The ECS can be found in all vertebrates and is used to balance the body and mind. When anandamide levels are out of balance, this can affect homeostasis, and therefore the effectiveness of the ECS.
Ways to Naturally Boost Anandamide Levels
Some foods can increase anandamide, such as chocolate, which has multiple mood-boosting biochemicals, including anandamide- chocolate is also able to slow down the body’s breakdown of anandamide. The best type of chocolate is the least processed such as cocoa powder or cacao nibs. Another food that can increase anandamide levels are black truffles- black truffles are mushrooms that are native to France, Italy and Spain, and usually grow in forests under oaks and other deciduous trees.
Another way to boost anandamide is by getting an endorphin rush, it has been found that 30 minutes of exercise can increase anandamide levels. Therefore aim to get that “high” from running or any type of exercise that produces that post-workout buzz.
You are also able to take cannabidiol (CBD) in whichever form suits you, as it is known that plant cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) can stimulate the ECS. It has been found that when CBD has been administered this leads to a boost in anandamide levels.
Anandamide is a brain chemical that is not widely known, especially when it comes to the role it plays in the body. It is a chemical naturally produced in the body that can affect and assist in many of the bodys biological functions. For something that plays a huge role in functions such as sleep, appetite and memory; it is clear that we need to maintain healthy and optimal levels of this chemical to keep our bodies biological functions working properly.