Health and Wellness

Have You Heard Of Anandamide – The Feel-Good Chemical? Read On To Find Out

The human body is much complex than we can ever decipher. There is so much immaculate detailing on every inch that no amount of research and studies can help replicate what has been created by nature.

One such surreal discovery happened a few decades ago when the researchers found the existence of marijuana like feel-good chemical in the human brain.

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In the 1980’s, the researchers discovered the receptors for THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the primary, psychoactive component of marijuana. However, the reason for the existence of those receptors remained a mystery.

Only after a decade of research, the researchers found the chemical that binds to those receptors to give you the high.

This chemical was called ‘arachidonylethanolamide’, later named as ‘Anandamide’.

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Anandamide literally means the bliss molecule. It derives its name from the Sanskrit word ‘Anand’, which means happiness.

Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that binds to the THC receptors or cannabinoid receptors in the brain cells. This neurotransmitter help to carry nutrients and signals to the cells. It is one of the feel-good hormone, (other than the more common dopamine and serotonin).

However, Anandamide benefits go way beyond just cheering you up.

It helps to boost memory, improve cognitive ability, controls appetite, reduces tolerance to pain, and helps with fertility.

It helps in neurogenesis, which in turn, deals with anxiety and depression.

Anandamide also helps to prevent breast cancer by stopping cancer cell proliferation.

The different ways by which this happiness effect can be attained:

  1. Our favorite, chocolate, is the only food source for anandamide. The cacao nibs used to make chocolate contain anandamide molecules.
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Another major reason why chocolate can make you feel good is that it has two other chemicals- N-oleoyl ethanolamine (OEA) and N-linoleoyl ethanolamine. Anandamide like other neurotransmitters can be easily broken down. These chemicals prevent the breakdown of the anandamide. Thus it remains in our body for a longer period of time. Chocolate also has theobromine, a sister molecule of caffeine. It acts as a vasodilator, lowers blood pressure, and relaxes the mind.

Exercise– Heard of the term “Runner’s High?” After a long run, we tend to feel happy. This is not only due to the endorphins released but also due to more anandamide binding to the cannabinoid receptors in your brain.

Create something– We often hear artists, writers, musicians getting zoned out while they perform. They are in a different zone altogether when at work. Completely oblivious to the surrounding they get a drug- like high. This flow- like state happens when you enjoy passionately what you are doing. This causes more anandamide to circulate in your system.

So there you go! Choose your passion. Eat chocolate, or run, or create your masterpiece. Do what draws you in to be your happiest self.

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Dr. Nida Kazi

Dr Nida Kazi is a health coach & nutritionist specialising in sports nutrition and Doctor of alternative medicine (M.D, A.M). She is a fitness enthusiast and firmly believe in the priniciple of eating right and exercising regularly. She likes exploring different cuisines and finding the interesting facts behind all foods and researching their origin. And what is life without a little sliver of nature, her interests involve hiking in the woods, going on adventurous expeditions and water sports.

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