The role of anandamide in benefiting brain function has drawn significant scientific interest since its 1992 discovery. The name is rooted in the Sanskrit word Ananda, or ‘internal bliss,’ which emphasizes the molecule’s beneficial effect in regulating emotional and mental well-being. Anandamide can support a healthy response to mild anxiety (not Generalized Anxiety Disorder), mood changes, stress, and trauma.* It might also improve sleep cycles, dilate blood vessels, and help maintain healthy levels of emotional well-being and appetite.*
We discuss below how anandamide, the ‘bliss’ molecule, produces feelings of happiness and how you can enhance your body’s anandamide level with a nutritional supplement.
It’s important to note that research into the highly complex, interconnected endocannabinoid system is ongoing, and our understanding continues to evolve as the research progresses. The endocannabinoids, theirreceptors, and associated enzymes constitute the human endocannabinoid system (ECS) — a group of neuromodulatory lipids associated with positive emotional processing. The body produces endocannabinoids naturally — compounds similar to the substances found in cannabis (tetrahydrocanabinol) — and releases these compounds in response to different physiological needs or imbalances. The two main endocannabinoids, anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG), activate the endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2, respectively), which receive and process chemical signals.
Anandamide primarily binds to and activates CB1 receptors located across several regions of the body and brain.* An enzyme, fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), breaks down the bliss molecule into ethanolamine and arachidonic acid. Studies show that inhibiting the activity of the FAAH enzyme blocks anandamide’s intracellular breakdown, leading to elevated levels in the body.
Your feel-good emotions and sensations are the result of four key hormones — dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. Let’s examine how anandamide beneficially influences the activity of these four hormones to create a sense of bliss.
The Effect of Anandamide on Hormones to Promote Happiness
|Research shows1 that stimulating CB1 receptors induces dopamine release in the brain. Findings2 suggest that endocannabinoids help maintain regular dopamine neurotransmissions and filter dopamine to downstream targets.
|Research studies3 highlight how blocking anandamide’s effects also blocks the effects of oxytocin, a hormone associated with interpersonal bonding. Stimulation of oxytocin-producing neurons resulted in increased anandamide production in the brain.
|Studies show4 that endocannabinoids help maintain regular levels of serotonin release in the central nervous system to modulate stress-related behaviors.
|An animall study5 on mice found elevated blood levels of both anandamide and β-endorphin after running, suggesting their combined effects on stimulating the ‘runner’s high’ — a sense of well-being reported by endurance athletes.
It’s not surprising that the chemical structures of anandamide and Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component in cannabis, are similar, because anandamide has been found to mimic several pharmacological effects of THC.* Both compounds have an overall balancing effect on the brain’s reward circuitry.
Although the body produces anandamide naturally, certain health conditions that cause excessive activity of the FAAH enzyme can aggravate the degradation of anandamide, resulting in its decreased level. Diminishing levels of anandamide might lead to improper regulation of mood, sleep, digestion, and other vital functions, thereby disrupting the body’s internal equilibrium, or homeostasis.
A balanced diet consisting of anandamide-rich food sources and a healthy lifestyle helps naturally maintain an optimal anandamide level. An anandamide nutritional supplement can also help fill gaps in your diet.
Tesseract Medical Research has developed an anandamide supplement, AnaQuell®, to serve as an effective alternative for individuals experiencing anandamide imbalance and its associated negative effects. In addition to anandamide, AnaQuell® contains L-citrulline, the natural precursor of L-arginine, which is required for nitric oxide (NO) production.* The presence of L-citrulline in AnaQuell improves NO production, thereby supporting enhanced blood flow and nutrient delivery to the brain.* Tesseract’s proprietary CyLoc® - DexKey® nutrient delivery technology solubilizes anandamide to enable its delivery through the gut wall for unprecedented absorption and bioavailability. AnaQuell’s innovative supplement formulation supports the body’s natural response to stress, mild (non-GAD) anxiety, mood changes, and trauma.*
1Sperlágh B, et al. Neurochemistry International vol. 54,7 (2009): 452-457. doi:10.1016/j.neuint.2009.01.017
2Covey DP, et al. Neuropharmacology vol. 124 (2017): 52-61. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2017.04.033
3Wei D, et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America vol. 112,45 (2015): 14084-14089. doi:10.1073/pnas.1509795112
4Haj-Dahmane S, Roh-Yu S. Neuropharmacology vol. 61,3 (2011): 414-420. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.02.016
5Fuss J, et al. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America vol. 112,42 (2015): 13105-13108. doi:10.1073/pnas.1514996112