Hemp and cannabis products such as CBD oil are becoming increasingly popular in the natural health market. The active components of cannabis and hemp are cannabinoids – THC and cannabidiol are the most prevalent and well known. But the human body actually produces its own cannabinoids, endocannabinoids.
A neurotransmitter and the “bliss molecule”
One of the endocannabinoids that the body naturally produces is called anandamide. And though it’s not well known by name, its effects are longed for and sought after. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that is linked to the sense of happiness, and has been referred to as the “bliss molecule.”
Anandamide stimulates the same receptors as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
Anandamide actually stimulates the same receptors as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), creating a sense of pleasure and ease. But anandamide doesn’t create any psychoactive affect. It can also be found in certain foods, though not many.
Endocannabinoids help protects against mental health disorders and memory loss
The endocannabinoids help protects against mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Anandamide specifically, is thought to help with memory. A lack of these substances in the body are thought to increase the risk of certain diseases like multiple sclerosis, depression and Parkinson’s disease. A deficiency in anandamide can create feelings of unhappiness, fear, and anxiety.
Chocolate contains anandamide
There are only a couple of foods that contain high levels of anandamide: Chocolate and truffles. Since truffles cost upwards of $100 for an ounce, we’ll talk about chocolate.
Cocoa, the source of chocolate, is also a rich source of anandamide. There are hundreds of other chemical constituents in chocolate. Some of them, such as caffeine, theobromine and phenylethylamine, are known to elevate mood. The theobromine actually helps stimulate the brain to release more anandamide. There are other substances that prolong the effects of anandamide as well.
There are other foods that have compounds that increase anandamide, without actually containing the endocannabinoid.
Some of these include:
- black pepper
- Apples, blackberries, grapes, peaches, raspberries
- Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, lettuce, potatoes, spinach, squash, tomatoes
- Green tea
- Olive oil
Other ways of increasing anandamide levels
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2| Getting in the zone; when we get into states of extreme focus, anandamide increases in our bodies.
3| Cuddling ; Oxytocin, the neurohormone that is produced during lovemaking, community bonding, or breastfeeding also increases anandamide.
4| Exercising; The phenomenon known as “runner’s high,” is thought to be a result of increased anandamide levels.
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review that has been in print since 2005 and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry and join us at Love is Medicine to explore the convergence of love and health.