Cannabis, Neuroscience

Anandamide, The Runner's High

?”..The results showed that both the runners and bicyclists had 80% more anandamide in their blood after exercising, with the greatest increase among the runners. They also reported physical feelings similar to marijuana use, such as relaxation, regulated mood, and increased appetite. Plus, they found that tempo running produced the most anandamide of all exercise …”

In 2004, Dr. Daniele Piomelli (UC Irvine) and Dr. Arne Deitrich (University of Beirut and Georgia Institute of Technology, also a marathoner) found another possibility – anandamide. Anandamide (named after the Sanskrit word for “bliss”) is a neurotransmitter produced in our brain that activates the same chemical receptor that is triggered by THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. This was a study of the effects of marijuana that led to the discovery of the CB(1) receptor. Since the body doesn’t produce receptors for external triggers (such as THC) there had to be a natural internal trigger somewhere. Anandamide was first discovered in 1992 by Israeli molecular chemist Raphael Mechoulam. It is known as the forgetting chemical and not only affects memory, but also plays a key role in the transmission of the sensation of pain (at the cellular level), sensation of pleasure, sensation of hunger, and also plays a role in balance.

Anandamide

Anandamide

 

Piomelli and Deitrich, looking for the runner’s high connection performed a study in early 2004 with two dozen college students who ran or bicycled for 40 minutes at 76 percent of their max heart rate, and then had blood samples drawn immediately after exercising. The results showed that both the runners and bicyclists had 80% more anandamide in their blood after exercising, with the greatest increase among the runners. They also reported physical feelings similar to marijuana use, such as relaxation, regulated mood, and increased appetite. “Anandamide is a tiny little fatty acid that crosses the blood-brain barrier like nobody’s business,” says Dietrich. Anandamide does more than just get you high. It also dilates your blood vessels and the bronchial tubes in your lungs. Both of these physical adaptations should help you run better and longer. Interestingly, tempo running produced the most anandamide of all exercise!

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