Anandamide or ‘the bliss molecule’
Anandamide (AEA), the first endocannabinoid to be discovered, was isolated by Lumír Hanuš and William Devane in 1992. It was named after the Sanskrit word, ‘ananda’, meaning internal bliss, to reflect its role as an endogenous, THC-like compound. The discovery of the other endocannabinoid 2-AG and the cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) led to the identification of the endocannabinoid system and research into its role in maintaining balance in virtually every physiological system in the body.
Produced in the cell membranes and tissues of the human body, Anandamide is a fatty acid neurotransmitter created via the biosynthesis of N-arachidonoyl phosphatidylethanoamine, or NAPE for short. It binds to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the same way that THC does and is thought to play an important role in regulating the pleasure and reward circuitry, the sensation of pain, appetite, memory and fertility. It has a relatively short shelf life when compared with other molecules in the body. This is because of an enzyme called FAAH that breaks it down. Various compounds, including CBD, inhibit this enzymatic breakdown, elevating anandamide levels. This has become an important avenue of research for the treatment numerous conditions.