The Incredible Effects Of Anandamide And CBD
Anandamide, also known as the “bliss molecule,” was discovered in 1992 and is a cannabinoid that is naturally manufactured by the body. Also called an endocannabinoid, it binds with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are situated in cell membranes of certain tissues, including the brain. In fact, the very presence of the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain initiated an investigation that led to the discovery of anandamide. Although further research is needed, there is evidence that anandamide and CBD share a connection that is beneficial to the body.
Let’s take a closer look at anandamide and importantly, the relationship between anandamide and CBD.
What is Anandamide?
Anandamide is one of the main endogenous cannabinoids in the body. The other one is 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG). Both are similar to neurotransmitters in function because of their ability to send chemical messages between neurons, also called nerve cells. Anandamide affects brain areas that influence memory, thinking, pleasure, concentration, movement and coordination, as well as sensory and time perception. 
The term anandamide originates from the Sanskrit word ānanda, which means bliss or happiness. The term endogenous means that anandamide is made in the body, by the body, unlike CBD and THC, which are cannabinoids derived from plants. They are distinguished as phytocannabinoids. 
What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?
CBD is one of the major phytocannabinoids found in cannabis. It accounts for up to 40% of cannabis extract. There is a common misconception that CBD is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, when in fact, CBD is psychoactive (meaning it can affect brain chemistry, and cause symptoms such as somnolence), but it is not psychotropic. This means that it doesn’t produce mind-altering effects such as paranoid delusions, or the euphoric “high” recreational users are after. At most, it leaves the user with a sense of deep relaxation and calm that can lead to sleepiness.
This is why CBD is considered as a remedy with a much greater therapeutic potential by researchers and users wanting to avoid the mind-altering effects of THC. Several studies show that CBD has anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, and antitumorigenic activities.
How Anandamide and CBD Benefit the Body
The way anandamide is synthesized and released in the body remains uncertain. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are activated by anandamide and 2-AG.
The CB1 receptor is associated with the psychotropic effects of THC. Its stimulation also plays a role in regulating pain, stress responses, emotions, and energy. 
Compared to THC, CBD has a low affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors. If present in higher concentrations, CBD can act as an indirect CB1 antagonist, which means that it blocks or decreases a biological response mediated by the receptor. A receptor agonist, such as THC, stimulates and activates the receptor.
Effects of Anandamide and CBD on Epilepsy
Several studies proved that both THC and CBD produced anticonvulsant effects in rodents. Aside from phytocannabinoids, anandamide levels also seem to play a role in epilepsy.
“There is also evidence of dysfunction in the endocannabinoid systems in epilepsy. Patients who were newly diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy have significantly lower levels of anandamide in cerebrospinal fluid compared with healthy counterparts.” 
CBD is known to downregulate— decrease in the cell—the amount of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) enzymes. FAAH is responsible for breaking down anandamide in the body.
Through this downregulation, CBD could be enhancing the effects of anandamide. The reasoning is that less FAAH enzymes equal higher levels of anandamide in the body.
This could mean that by taking CBD oil, individuals suffering from epilepsy may be benefitting from increasing their levels of anandamide.
Whatever the exact mechanism, enough studies have demonstrated a decrease in seizure frequency and severity after CBD administration to have prompted the recent FDA approval of a CBD-based anti-epilepsy drug.
The Effects of Anandamide On Cancer
According to recent evidence, the endocannabinoid system and its endocannabinoids can play an important role in cancer therapy. This is because studies suggest that anandamide can be a new therapy to treat malignant lymphoblastic diseases. Available evidence suggests that anandamide has a role in apoptosis (cell death), as it is believed to be a modulator of cell survival and death. 
Cannabidiol, Anandamide, and Schizophrenia
We already know that cannabidiol has low affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors. We also know that it inhibits the degradation of anandamide. One study in patients with schizophrenia suggests that increased levels of anandamide (in this case by using CBD), could be helpful to treat patients with acute schizophrenia.
The 2012, double-blind, randomized clinical trial looked at the effects of cannabidiol vs amisulpride—a potent antipsychotic—in patients with acute schizophrenia. The researchers had already found that "... an elevation of anandamide levels in cerebrospinal fluid inversely correlated to psychotic symptoms." This means that in another study, they have observed that the more anandamide increased in the patients' spinal fluid, the more the patients' psychotic symptoms decreased. In this study, they wanted to test their theory, using cannabidiol that prevents the degradation (and therefore the decrease) of anandamide.
Both CBD and amisulpride were given to the patients for 28 days. The trial resulted in excellent clinical improvements, where patients showed a positive reaction to both cannabidiol and amisulpride treatment. CBD presented with a much more favorable side-effect profile, though. 
Therefore, the researchers concluded that “ inhibition of anandamide deactivation may contribute to the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol, potentially representing a completely new mechanism in the treatment of schizophrenia.” 
What does this mean? It indicates that cannabidiol may indirectly enhance anandamide signaling by preventing its degradation inside the cell, a process which is caused by the FAAH enzyme. 
Although there is still plenty of room for more research, we can conclude that the relationship between anandamide and CBD is highly valuable to the body.
- http://jpet.aspetjournals.org/content/jpet/357/1/45.full.pdf [p46; p51]
- https://www.nature.com/articles/4401284 [Under: Conclusions]
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3316151/ [Introduction; Results]