hese days, we have become very aware and alert about the food we eat and the ingredients it contains. One such element that you need to make yourself aware of is Anandamide. On the first look you may think that it is a chemistry molecule or substance. The word Anandamide has been derived from a Sanskrit word which means joy or bliss. So it is commonly also called as the bliss molecule. The main reason is that it helps to derive pleasure and gives the user a feeling of happiness and well being. The action of this neuroactive substance is also seen in memory modulation, appetite stimulation and motivation etc. Studies have shown that in the brain, this molecule binds and reacts with the exact same endocannabinoid receptor as THC.
The history of this molecule is interesting. Back in 1980, THC receptors were discovered in the brain. THC is the main psychoactive substance present in marijuana. What scientists could not understand then is THC cannot be produced by the body, then how come there were receptors against it. The answer to this puzzle came with the arrival of arachidonylethanolamide which went on to be called as anandamide. We shall now understand the exact mode of action of this molecule.
Mode Of Action Of Anandamide
Being one of the first endocannabinoid to be discovered by scientists, Anandamide became very popular because of its unique mode of action which was very similar to that of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). This is primarily because they both bind with the same receptors in the brain. The high and the effects that are associated with THC are similar to the ones the user experiences on consumption of Anandamide.
These are the broad similarities but if you get into the details of both the compounds, there are some interesting differences too. Both of these elements bind to the exact same receptors, but Anandamide is a fragile molecule. When it is produced in the brain, the break down happens into other compounds by an enzyme that has been identified by the name Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH). Depending on the speed of action of FAAH, anandamide will be metabolized. Slower the action of FAAH, longer anadamide will stay in the body and give the user a feeling of true bliss and happiness. Like all neuro transmitters, it also breaks down in the body and so the state of happiness and relaxation is not perpetual and lasts for a limited time. This substance called anandamide has been found in two foods namely black truffles and chocolate.
This entire pathway of the mode of action of anandamide is very interesting to the researchers and scientists because they feel that somewhere here is hidden the key to treating disorders that affect the nervous system like anxiety and depression. This occurs by an increase in the neurogenesis and formation of newer nerve cells.
Other known effects of anandamide are pain control, appetite stimulation, fertility and also controlling cancer cell spread and proliferation.
Foods Containing Anandamide
Generally speaking, chocolate contains over 300 compounds and one of them is anandamide. This is the very reason why you keep going back to your fridge for more. The sweetness in the chocolate comes from sugar but according to researchers, compounds like caffeine and theobromine are the ones that enhance its taste and give us the satisfaction and feeling of happiness associated with it. Another reason why chocolate is often addictive is the presence of anandamide and two other compounds that tend to make its break down rather slow making it stay in the system for a longer time. Scientists have identified anandamide as the natural version of THC in our body which is why you feel so relaxed after having a hot cup of chocolate.
The amount of anandamide was found to be much more in cocoa solids. This is the reason why dark chocolate is more intense and addictive as compared to milk chocolate. Darker the chocolate more is the content of anadamide. You must keep this in mind the next time you buy a chocolate covered cannabis product.
(2) Black Truffles:
Winter black truffles also called as Tuber Melanosporum contain anandamide. The question here was that black truffles do not have endocannabinoid receptors, then why would they produce anandamide. Studies have shown that the anandamide could be passed on to animals that eat truffles. This further leads to spreading by means of spores. As a result animals like pigs, dogs etc have endocannabinoid receptors. Another action of this substance is that it regulates our perception of pain in the body. This happens by the binding with CB1 receptors present in the central nervous system.
Truffles are generally expensive and they are priced at 100 dollars for an ounce. They are very much in demand by the top chefs all over the world. It is equally difficult to find and so it has to be hunted down in the wild forests by truffle hunters who take truffle seeking pigs or dogs along with them. So it is definitely an expensive way out if you want to experience some bliss and happiness.
(3) Other Foods that contain anadamide are celery, tea and parsley. These are relatively cheaper options as compared to truffles which are expensive and difficult to find.
Side Effects Of Anandamide
The effects of anandamide in making you feel relaxed and blissful are very well known but it also has some other effects in the body that may not be so favorable. It has a tendency to increase the appetite. Studies have shown that anandamide plays a vital role in stimulating the endocannabinoid system and results in the onset of obesity in the user.
Anandamide is a comparatively recent discovery and so a lot of work has to be done to understand exactly how it works in the brain. Its effects on the body also need to be understood both in healthy persons and in people suffering from brain disorders like anxiety and severe depression.