Cannabis and Autism

Catch 22. That simply means that if you want to get a job as a carpenter – you can’t – unless you join the union. But you can’t join the union – unless you have a job. The Urban Dictionary defines Catch 22 as: A requirement that cannot be met until a prerequisite requirement is met, however, the prerequisite cannot be obtained until the original requirement is met.

And that is precisely what’s happening in the world of autism and medical marijuana. Doctors won’t prescribe cannabis to autistic children because there has been no research and no data to support the efficacy of marijuana on autism. The catch 22 here is, that no doctors will research the effects of pot on autistic children because there hasn’t been any research on the effects of pot on autistic kids. Also because they are afraid that the cannabis may be dangerous to them.

However, there is anecdotal evidence that autistic children who are given small doses of CBD (cannabidiol) are moving toward healthier and happier lives. CBD is one of the main healing cannabinoids in cannabis. When Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN witnessed the miraculous recovery of a young girl who tried CBD, he came out in favor of legalizing medical cannabis. The girl, Charlotte Figi, didn’t have autism but she was having 300 Grand Mal seizures every week because of Dravet Syndrome.   After being given small doses of CBD oil her seizures were immediately reduced to two to three times a month.

Some other doctors are also opening their minds and their ears and are paying attention to marijuana, the new medicine. “Anecdotes should not be dismissed,” said Dr. Daniele Piomelli, one of the world’s top neuroscientists and endocannabinoid researchers. The University of California-Irvine faculty member won’t consider prescribing cannabis at this time, but is aware of the growing clamor for it. “An anecdote is a pointer. It’s something that suggests something needs to be either proven or disproven.”

There are even some medical professionals out there who are taking action since the mainstream medical researchers and labs are sitting on their hands. Dr. Giovanni Martinez, a clinical psychologist in Puerto Rico, is researching CBD and how it affects kids with autism. He tells how a young non-verbal child, after receiving two small doses of CBD, began to develop language skills. Martinez says, “It’s incredible to see a child go from being non-communicative to achieving a significant improvement in quality of life—for both the child and his family.”

There are many other success stories regarding autism and marijuana’s CBD oil. Hopefully, more doctors and researchers in the medical world will start listening to them and be willing to do what they were trained to do: heal the sick, no matter what the source of the medicine is.

Source:  https://www.leafly.com/news/health/how-does-cannabis-consumption-affect-autism/

 

Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett.

The Benefits of Cannabis

There are so many naysayers out there regarding marijuana that we thought we’d brighten up your day a bit and pass on some interesting, informative and good news to you. There are some obvious and very well documented health benefits from ingesting cannabis, such as pain relief, reduction of epileptic seizures and the decrease in eye pressure for those suffering from glaucoma, but we wanted to give you a few more that might surprise you.

Weight loss is probably not the first thing that comes to people’s minds when they think of marijuana. There have been several studies at major universities (Harvard and University of Nebraska) that have found that people who use marijuana are skinnier than their friends who don’t use it. Apparently, the pot friendly people had smaller waists than non-users even though the munchies caused them to eat up to 600 more calories a day than usual. Go figure.

Lung capacity increase for people who smoke marijuana was reported by the National Health and Nutrition Examinations Survey. It also found that lungs were not affected negatively by cannabis smoke.

Depression was found in much lower levels in those who smoked cannabis occasionally or daily compared to people who never used marijuana. This was found in studies done by USC and SUNY Albany.

ADHD and anxiety symptoms were found to be relieved with small doses of cannabis. This was also found in the same studies done by USC and SUNY Albany.

Cancer cells have been killed in patients with leukemia who smoked pot. That was in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, which basically said that cannabis turns off the cancer gene and stops the cancer from spreading.

Arthritis pain has been successfully reduced in many patients who ingest marijuana. The THC stifles the chronic pain that accompanies arthritis. Patients generally reduce pain, get more sleep and their inflammation is also greatly diminished.

Opiate addiction has been decreased when addicts substitute marijuana for the opiates they have been using.

Multiple Sclerosis pain has been shown to significantly decrease when patients use marijuana.

There are many more benefits to those who use cannabis; we just wanted to share a few with our readers. Don’t forget that pot can bring out your creativity also. Many artists and aspiring artists say that their creative doors magically opened up and worlds that they never imagined previously were now theirs to explore. Go explore and be happy!

The Cannabinoid Receptors and PTSD

We’ve talked about the endocannabinoid system in a past blog, but only briefly touched on the cannabinoid receptors. In this blog, we’d like to explore the cannabinoid receptors just a bit more before we move on to another topic. Research scientists are always eager to pounce on things that are waiting to be dissected, analyzed, broken down to their smallest component. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is one of those things and it is a malady that affects thousands of military personnel and average citizens alike. According to NYU researcher Alexander Neumeister, “There’s not a single pharmacological treatment out there that has been developed specifically for PTSD.”

A recent study done at NYU School of Medicine concluded that there might be a connection between the effects of PTSD, marijuana and the number of cannabinoid receptors in the brain. Cannabinoid receptors are mechanisms that are part of the endocannabinoid system. They are uniquely structured to be able to bind only with cannabinoids from the marijuana plant and endocannabionoids that are generated naturally within the body. There are two known cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, numbered in the order in which they were discovered. The cannabinoid receptors play a role in signaling messages from the brain to the body and they transmit information about memory, pain, mood and appetite, among other things.

Previous studies have shown that when CB receptors are combined with cannabis they can reduce anxiety, which is a major element of PTSD. The NYU study had 60 participants; some of them had PTSD, some had experienced trauma but were not diagnosed with PTSD, and some had experienced no trauma but were diagnosed with PTSD. They were all given a tracer to illuminate their CB1 receptors, then they underwent a PET scan. It was found that the PTSD sufferers had more CB1 receptors than the healthy subjects in the parts of the brain that produced anxiety and fear.

Since the PET scan was able to show the abundance of CB1 receptors in the brains of people with PTSD and showed those without the disorder having much less, the study suggested that their findings could lead the way to diagnosing PTSD accurately. Today, PTSD diagnoses are derived only from subjective observations, without any physical techniques, which makes it difficult to diagnose it with accuracy. The NYU research offered a biological interpretation for the disorder by showing the concentration of cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which in turn points to the discovery of a way to actually “see” PTSD in patients.

The lead researcher for the study, Alexander Neumeister had this to say, “There’s a consensus among clinicians that existing pharmaceutical treatments such as antidepressant simply do not work.” He also added, “that anecdotal evidence has shown that some PTSD sufferers who use marijuana, a cannabinoid, experience more symptom relief than with antidepressants.”

Cannabinoid receptors are miraculous and integral parts of our bodies. They play a role in our health and well-being and our physical healing. Now they might be able to play a role in healing our heroic military men and women who suffer from PTSD.

Where Is All The Cannabis Research Coming From?

Since our government still has marijuana listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, that is, as dangerous as heroin with no medicinal value, there are only several laboratories that have been given permission to do any type of research on cannabis in this country. While much of our knowledge of the healing properties of marijuana comes from anecdotal evidence in the United States, there have been many bona fide scientific studies that have produced real results and pertinent observations on the effectiveness of the herb’s healing properties outside the country. Some very successful studies have been done in Europe but the ones that are getting the most attention internationally and in the U.S. are from Israel.

Israel has become the world leader in medical marijuana research. Although it is a very small country, it is apparently very open-minded when it comes to medicine.

Israel’s Ministry of Health has been looking closely at the medicinal effects of cannabis for decades. In fact, it was the legendary Israeli scientist, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, who convinced the Ministry to start a medicinal cannabis program and in 1992 it was implemented. Today, that medical marijuana program treats over 25,000 Israeli patients with cannabis and cannabis extracts.

Dr. Mechoulam, by the way, became famous in marijuana circles and the scientific community in the 1960s. He was the man who isolated the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). He also identified CBD (cannabidiol), another incredibly potent, but not psychoactive cannabinoid in the marijuana plant. CBD has been shown to drastically reduce epileptic seizures, decrease pain, it is an anti-psychotic, anti-inflammatory and among other things it is an antioxidant and antiemetic.

CBD is the element that brought about the famous “turn around” of Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN. He was adamantly opposed to legalizing any part of marijuana until he did a show for CNN on marijuana. He discovered that a little girl named Charlotte Figi, was having over 300 gran mal seizures every week and couldn’t talk, walk or do anything else with her life until her parents, as a last resort, took her to Colorado, where Marijuana use was legal. They too were against the use of cannabis but when they heard that CBD in cannabis helped a patient who had similar seizures then they bought some CBD extract and gave it to Charlotte. The small doses of CBD changed her life immediately. Instead of the 300 seizures each week she had only 3 or 4 each month and they were much less severe. She now lives a normal life and Dr. Gupta is an advocate for legalized medical marijuana.

Israeli scientists who regularly do research on the effects of marijuana think they have found another breakthrough use for cannabis: the prevention of cancer. Israeli cancer patients have been using marijuana for some time to relieve pain and nausea and to stimulate their appetite. Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa have found that marijuana can possibly be effective in treating brain and breast cancer and also in delaying the progress and expansion of cancer cells. These are only preliminary findings and there is a lot more to look at before firm conclusions can be reached but the researchers are investigating 50 different strains of cannabis and observing their effects on over 200 types of cancer.

The Israeli research on marijuana is proving to be indispensible to patients all over the world. Thanks to Dr, Mechoulam and his associates, we in the United States can clearly see the benefits of marijuana to fight diseases, pain, seizures and many other maladies. There is, however, another party to thank for all these years of dedicated research: The United States government. That’s right, NIH (the National Institutes of Health), an official agency of the federal government, has been funding Dr, Mechoulam’s pet projects for over five decades. We were surprised when we found out also.

The NIH has been sending $100,000 to Dr, Mechoulam each and every year for his cannabis research. The amazing thing is, that with all the great results that the Israeli’s have discovered, apparently the United States government doesn’t do anything with them or cannabis would have been removed from its Schedule 1 classification long ago. We think that much of this extremely positive marijuana information has been packed and sealed into a wooden box and stamped “Top Secret” and then stored in a large warehouse somewhere and stacked next to another wooden box that contains the Holy Grail. Or…the data got lost along the way from Israel to Washington D.C. We just can’t explain it.

Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett.

The Endocannabinoid System: Our Body’s Unique System for Maintaining Health

Some scientists and researchers believe that the discovery of the endocannabinoid system in the human body is one of the most important finds in recent medical history. That is saying a great deal, especially since there have been thousands of other medical breakthroughs in our time. It’s also very interesting because the endocannabinoid system was named after cannabis sativa, the marijuana plant.
Why is this system so important? The researchers who are involved in the study of this incredible network of receptors say that it has a hand in influencing many of our bodily systems such as, the musculoskeletal system, the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the nervous system, the gastrointestinal system and our metabolism. They also tell us that they see great potential in the treatment of insomnia, nausea, cancer, arthritis, glaucoma, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, stroke, obesity and other ailments through the modulation of the activity of the endocannabinoid system.
Dr. Ralph Mechoulam, an Israeli researcher, discovered the endocannabinoid system in the 1990s. He was also the scientist who identified THC as marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient. Dr. Mechoulam discovered two endocannabinoid receptors, cannabinoid 1 (CB1) and cannabinoid 2 (CB2). These receptors (in the nervous system and brain) are uniquely designed for accepting and distributing cannabinoids from the marijuana plant. It was also observed that the human body can produce endocannabinoids very much like the body produces its own endorphins, which cause a euphoric effect. Endocannabinoids are simply cannabinoids that we produce ourselves, inside our own bodies, and cannabinoids come from outside the body and are an important pain relieving and medicinal components in marijuana.
The receptors have different functions. When ingesting marijuana, CB1 receptors are responsible for our perception of being “high” and for the feeling of pain. When the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) reaches the CB1 receptor, the pain is diminished greatly and the “high” is experienced. CB2, on the other hand, is compatible with other cannabinoids such as CBD (cannabidiol), which can reduce anxiety and spasms along with reducing the number of epileptic seizures a patient might have. When CBD plugs into the CB2 receptor it also works as an anti-inflammatory and antipsychotic medication among other benefits.
Most of the research on the endocannabinoid system has shown that it is indeed a very important and necessary physiological system that works in conjunction with our own endocannabinoids and with outside cannabinoids from the marijuana plant. The system’s receptors then disseminate all of the cannabinoids’ and marijuana’s healing aspects throughout the body. Research on the endocannabinoid system is ongoing in Israel and several other countries. When our government decides to take marijuana off of the dangerous drug list then more research will take place here. Until then, know that your body has an incredible system that is constantly working to keep you healthy.

What Exactly is Cannabinoid Hyperemesis?

An interesting condition known as Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome has been popping up around the country. It involves nausea and cyclical vomiting and doctors rarely know how to diagnosis the cause of the symptoms because this phenomenon is so new to the medical world.

When someone comes into the emergency room complaining about throwing up for several hours each day, the physicians immediately begin quizzing the patient about their eating and lifestyle habits. The medical professional knows from years of medical school that nausea and cyclical vomiting could be any of a number of maladies including food poisoning, stomach flu, intolerance to certain foods or even gall stones, among a host of other things. Yet even though the ailment is sitting right there in front of them doctors are seldom able to pinpoint the correct name for it: Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome, or CHS.

That vomiting disorder with the funny name that sounds so much like cannabis and so often slips through the cracks of medical expertise has been unrecognizable and untreatable until now. (By the way, CHS was named after the cannabinoids in marijuana because even though researchers aren’t quite sure why this syndrome is caused by pot, they are very sure that it is). Nausea and cyclical vomiting in people with CHS is always accompanied by very hot showers or baths to alleviate the pain and the vomiting. The hot water helped ease symptoms but only temporarily. Some patients had to go back to the hospital more than ten times with still no diagnosis. Patients underwent tests of all kinds that came back with negative results. When the patients stayed in the hospital for several days, however, for dehydration due to vomiting, their symptoms went away and they felt much better.

Soon, some pretty smart doctors saw a pattern in all the patients’ behavior: Nausea, vomiting, hot showers and…marijuana. When someone thought of asking if the patient smoked marijuana that became the Bingo moment. All the patients with CHS had marijuana in common with each other. They all had long-term use of cannabis in common with each other. “No predisposing factor is known except the length of the exposure to cannabinoids, with an average of around 10 years with daily usage,” explains Omri Braver, an internal medicine physician at the Soroka Medical Center and Faculty of Health Sciences in Beer Sheva, Israel who has treated several cases. “There might be some other factors—but they haven’t been described yet.”

Medical experts agree that long-term chronic use (or overuse) of marijuana, especially on a daily basis, increases your chances of becoming a CHS sufferer. They simply don’t know at this time who is more prone to it than others, but the upside of all this vicious, violent vomiting is that as soon as you stop smoking marijuana your symptoms will go away. So, if you have imbibed the herb everyday for a great many years and you start to become nauseous unexpectedly, CHS may be the name for it. Set your herb aside for a day or two and you may feel a lot better.

 

Source

CBN & THCV: Cannabinoid Profile

Cannabinoids, as we’ve talked about in previous blogs, are chemical compounds unique to cannabis that bind with cell receptors in the brain and body and either get one ‘high’ or have some healing benefit. The two most popular cannabinoids of the over 80 so far discovered in marijuana, and the ones which have been researched the most are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

THC, the psychoactive element in the herb, is a very effective pain reliever, appetite stimulant, reduces nausea and vomiting, calms asthma attacks, relieves intraocular pressure (Glaucoma), and is a sleep inducer.

CBD is non-psychoactive (doesn’t get you high) and has been shown to be an antioxidant, antiemetic (diminishes nausea and vomiting), antipsychotic, anti-tumor (fights cancer), and the most remarkable and most talked about remedial property of CBD is its very successful use in lessening the number of epileptic seizures people have.

These two stars of the cannabinoid universe have been rightly singled out as miracle workers because of all the things that they can do for human health. However, researchers are now shining the light of science on several other here-to-for unmentioned and unknown cannabinoids for their potential medicinal attributes.

CBN (Cannabinol) is a cannabinoid that is formed when the oxidation of THC occurs. It can happen because of poor storage or through extensive handling, any process that exposes THC to UV light (ultraviolet) and oxygen in the air. CBN will also be formed at a faster rate if it is subjected to higher than normal heat temperatures. Since CBN is created from THC it has some of the basic characteristics of that most famous cannabinoid. CBN is psychoactive but with a very low potency, about 10% the strength of its cousin THC. Still, it can lower the heart rate, cause dizziness fatigue and disorientation. CBN can also attenuate (lessen) the potency of THC along with the anxiety that THC may bring with it.

The many therapeutic benefits of CBN have surprised most researchers who have been ignoring these “minor league” cannabinoids for all these years. Some of the beneficial effects of CBN are:

• Pain reliever – more effective than THC and several times stronger than aspirin.

• Anti-inflammatory

• Antispasmodic – reduces convulsions and seizures.

• Stimulates bone growth

• Lessens symptoms of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)

• Immunosuppressant – helpful in organ transplants and for treating HIV.

The other cannabinoid that has sat quietly in the shadows until now is THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin). This cannabinoid, as its name suggests, is closely related to its big brother THC, but the effects it produces are a bit different. THCV is psychoactive and it enhances the euphoric effects of THC but for a much shorter duration. It is also gives one a burst of energy and a clear-headed buzz.

Some of THCV’s medical uses are:

• It is an appetite suppressant – no munchies here – but it is good for weight loss.

• THCV is being tested on diabetes and is showing very positive signs of being able

to reduce insulin levels and regulate blood sugar in patients.

• It also appears to be able to suppress emotions and is being tested on PTSD

patients who have anxiety attacks.

• THCV stimulates bone growth.

• THCV is being tested on Alzheimer’s sufferers and it is improving brain lesions,

motor control and tremors in patients.

While these are all positive and very promising test results, there is still much work to be done in the study of cannabinoids and marijuana in general. Scientists are also coming to the conclusion that even though individual cannabinoids demonstrate marvelous medical capabilities, they are almost always more effective when they work in conjunction with other cannabinoids in the marijuana plant. That is called the entourage effect. More on that later.

CBC (Cannabichromene): Emerging from the Shadows Into the Spotlight of Science

The more research that’s done on marijuana, the more interesting this wonderful plant becomes. We’ve all heard of the chemical compounds in cannabis known as cannabinoids, the therapeutic miracle workers, and we’ve also known that the two most talked about and most thoroughly studied cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). Well, it appears it’s time for these two stars to move over and share the spotlight with another cannabinoid that is fast becoming the toast of the marijuana research laboratories: Cannabichromene, or CBC.

While there have been over a hundred cannabinoids isolated in the marijuana plant so far, many of their individual functions are still unknown to scientists. Cannabichromene, however, has demonstrated several distinctive traits that indicate potential medicinal properties.

One of the benefits cannabichromene has exhibited, is its ability (and perhaps its fundamental purpose) to augment and even intensify the effects of THC. Some researchers have theorized that higher levels of CBC can boost the potency of a dominant THC strain of cannabis. Since CBC isn’t psychoactive like its cousin cannabinoid THC, it acts in conjunction with the THC to enhance its overall effect. This synergistic bonding of the two cannabinoids (along with other cannabinoids and terpenes) is important medicinally because it creates an even more vigorous pain reliever than either one could produce on their own without the aid or the entourage effect of its helper.

CBC is also being looked at quite seriously in regard to cancer research. The way it interacts with anandamide, which is a naturally occurring chemical neurotransmitter or messenger in the brain, shows great promise in the battle against cancer because it increases the ability of the immune system to use its own chemical compounds (like anandamide) to fight cancer.

CBC is one of those cannabinoids that acts as a catalyst when it is combined with other cannabinoids. When it mixes with other compounds an entourage effect or synergistic effect takes place. Synergy and the entourage effect are extremely important concepts when dealing with the medicinal effects of marijuana because researchers are noticing more and more that the way to get the most out of one cannabinoid is to blend it with another, different cannabinoid. The terms synergy and entourage effect basically mean that when you combine two or more components together, the resulting effect is more than the sum of their individual effects. In general, cannabinoids need other cannabinoids to bring out their full potential and the full range of medicinal healing powers.

Besides being a helper of sorts with other cannabinoids, CBC has also been shown to be able to galvanize bone growth and decrease inflammation. However, its real value apparently lies in its potential to fight cancer. And that in itself is bringing this hitherto unknown cannabinoid out of the shadows and into the limelight of marijuana research. CBC may one day outshine both THC and CBD – if we’re lucky.

The Interesting Entourage Effects of Cannabis

Have you ever wondered why individual strains of cannabis affect you differently?

While some types of marijuana make you feeling lethargic and half asleep, others give you a burst of creative energy allowing you to be active all day or into the night. There are hundreds of other specific reactions to pot depending on which variety you consume. All of this is definitely not rocket science but it is actually very scientific.

Many of the hippies and cannabis entrepreneurs from the 1960s “turned on, tuned in and dropped out” back then and moved up to Washington, Oregon and Northern California, and other places to escape the prying eyes of law enforcement and those who have no empathy for marijuana users. They began their own cannabis plantations and many of them have been experimenting with marijuana for decades. And by experimenting we mean they have been scientifically mixing and matching marijuana plants to come up with their version of what the ideal bud breed is.

Most people, when they classify a marijuana strain simply tell you it’s either sativa, indica or a hybrid of the two. One strain may be sativa-dominant , which means that the effects will be uplifting and move you to be creative, or it will be indica-dominant, which is just the opposite, that is, relaxing and sedating – you may doze off a bit. However, just because the strain is heavy on one versus the other, doesn’t tell us what’s really going on inside that bud you’re about to grind down to pop in your bowl. There’s a lot more to it than indica and sativa.

We’ve talked about cannabinoids and terpenes previously in this blog. Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds in marijuana that interact with the endocannabinoid system in our brains and bodies and can produce feelings of euphoria along with providing healing properties such as stopping pain and reducing epileptic seizures. Laboratory research scientists have uncovered over 80 cannabinoids in marijuana so far and currently, the most famous cannabinoids are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

Terpenes, the cannabinoid-like aromatic hydrocarbon compounds in marijuana, produce the unique fragrance of each marijuana plant. They also aid in the production of the plant’s resins, hormones, and pigments among other things. When certain terpenes are combined with specific cannabinoids, their focus and strength is much stronger than if they were operating alone.

The most famous terpene in marijuana is myrcene. It is found in a number of other plants such as mangos, lemon grass and hops. This terpene is a true medicinal element in cannabis because it’s not only an antiseptic and antimicrobial, but it is an antioxidant and anti-carcinogen also. Myrcene, by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain and body, much like cannabinoids do, can regulate the permeable membranes of the cells, thus controlling the amount of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids that get into the cells. This terpene “helper” allows the effectiveness of the medicinal cannabinoid, whether it is the pain reliever THC or the epileptic seizure stopper CBD to do its job more powerfully than if the cannabinoid had to travel alone to the body’s receptors. This synergistic effectiveness between Cannabinoids and terpenes has been documented in several studies: GW Pharmaceuticals in 2008, The University of Jordan in 2007, and a 2011 study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, “Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid Entourage Effects.” The study concluded by saying, terpenes have been found to have medical efficacy typically considered to be delivered only by cannabinoids.

So, in the future, you may see cannabis strains labeled very specifically with all the things you could ever want for your medicinal and recreational needs. The pot strain may be sativa-dominant with a small amount of THC and a large helping of CBD, along with a high percentage of myrcene for added synergistic effect. That day may not be too far away because the government is getting close to decriminalizing cannabis, which means that there will be more research being done on developing the perfect bud just for you.

Anandamide: The Brain’s THC

Anandamide is an endogenous neurotransmitter, which simply means that it is a naturally occurring chemical messenger in the brain. This recently recognized neurotransmitter was named after the ancient Sanskrit word ananda, which means “bliss.”

Neurotransmitters are called messengers because they travel from neurons to the receptors of other neurons (nerve cells) with chemical “messages” that tell the neurons which body and brain tasks to regulate. The receptors have to be a perfect fit for the neurotransmitters to bind to or the message won’t be received; absolutely nothing will happen.

On the other hand, when there is a perfect fit between neurotransmitter and the receptor on the neuron, they will bind together and the message will be received and the instructed task will be achieved. It’s very similar to handheld radios. Both people holding the radios must be on the same wavelength, that is, their radio dials have to be set to the exact same number in order for one person to send a message and for the other one to receive it. If they are not on the same channel then there is no communication at all because there is not a perfect fit.

Naturally occurring neurotransmitters in the brain have specific jobs or tasks and each neurotransmitter regulates different functions in the body and the brain. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are two neurotransmitters that help the body manage stress. Dopamine plays the role of reward-giver to nerve cells and thus, to the body and the brain. Serotonin regulates learning, sleep, and mood. All of these neurotransmitters fit snuggly into their targeted receptors so they are successful in accomplishing their intended functions.

Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that is important in memory, appetite, pain and depression, along with fertility. This neurotransmitter is now understood to trigger the receptors that allow the cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in marijuana to bind with its receptors in the brain. Anandamide, by way of its streamlined structure, is also capable of passing through the blood/brain barrier on its own. Even though it is named after the word for “bliss” it doesn’t produce a very long or sustained euphoric mood or high because it is short-lived and quite delicate in its makeup.

Recent studies on animals and anandamide point to this neurotransmitter producing forgetfulness. That is not necessarily a bad thing, however, because it has pushed researchers forward into testing substances that might keep anandamide from targeting and binding to its receptors. That, of course, would be a huge breakthrough in the treatment of expanding human memory capability and treating the loss of memory.

Anandamide has also been discovered in dark chocolate! Yes, that is exciting and it explains a great deal. Our feelings of well-being and even elation when we eat dark chocolate are brought on by the release of the naturally occurring anandamide in the chocolate itself. Once the anandamide binds with its perfectly fitted receptor in the brain then we get a taste (no pun intended) of a THC high. We also get a rush from a dopamine release, which makes us a bit euphoric.

Based on this news you shouldn’t run out and buy a pound of dark chocolate to get high on. First of all, it won’t be good for your digestion and secondly, you would need over twenty pounds of that exotic treat to duplicate a real and sustained THC high. However, by the time you ate a pound of dark chocolate, which would be tasty for the first few bites, you would probably already be in the emergency room wishing you were somewhere else. So, listen to your neurotransmitters closely, and remember to always be moderate when searching for your bliss.