bliss molecule: a popular name for the chemical compound anandamide, the neurotransmitter that transmits blissful messages within the human brain; also found in cannabis.

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So far, research from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) has shown that patients with PTSD have lower levels of anandamide, also known as the body’s “bliss molecule,” an endogenous cannabinoid, or chemical compound normally found in cannabis. Anandamide triggers the same receptors that are activated by THC, CBD and other cannabis compounds, according to researcher Martin Lee. Because PTSD is characterized by a deficiency of anandamide, cannabis can be especially helpful.

See article at: Madison Margolin, “Veteran Korey Rowe’s Documentary Spotlights Cannabis’ Benefit as PTSD Treatment,” LA Weekly, May 17, 2018


Cells use chemicals called neurotransmitters to pass signals from the transmitters on one neuron to the receptors on a neighboring neuron. We are not sure how many different neurotransmitters our brains use, but researchers have so far identified over 100 of these messenger molecules.

One such neurotransmitter is anandamide, a name that comes from the Sanskrit word ananda for joy or bliss, which (you guessed it) helps our brain communicate happiness, ease, and comfort. The levels of anandamide, otherwise known as the bliss molecule, in our brain are regulated by the fatty acid FAAH (fatty acid amide hydrolase) which works to deactivate the anandamide by converting it into other acids.

What if some people have a gene that makes them less anxious? Drs. Francis Lee and Iva Dincheva of Weill Cornell Medical College have been investigating a gene variation that, for the roughly 20% of adults lucky enough to have it, causes them to have less FAAH. Without as much FAAH to break down their anandamide, the anandamide can persist longer in the synapses to send its blissful chemical messages. The new research shows those with the gene variation are not only more mellow, but also more easily able to forget prior negative experiences.

See article at: Sabrina Stierwalt, “Is Anxiety Genetic?,” Scientific American, December 30, 2015


[C]linicians have long known that there are plenty of people who experience anxiety in the absence of any danger or stress and haven’t a clue why they feel distressed. Despite years of psychotherapy, many experience little or no relief. It’s as if they suffer from a mental state that has no psychological origin or meaning, a notion that would seem heretical to many therapists, particularly psychoanalysts.

Recent neuroscience research explains why, in part, this may be the case. For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that a genetic variation in the brain makes some people inherently less anxious, and more able to forget fearful and unpleasant experiences. This lucky genetic mutation produces higher levels of anandamide — the so-called bliss molecule and our own natural marijuana — in our brains.

In short, some people are prone to be less anxious simply because they won the genetic sweepstakes and randomly got a genetic mutation that has nothing at all to do with strength of character. About 20 percent of adult Americans have this mutation. Those who do may also be less likely to become addicted to marijuana and, possibly, other drugs — presumably because they don’t need the calming effects that marijuana provides.
. . .
We all have anandamide, but those who have won the lucky gene have more of it because they have less of an enzyme called FAAH, which deactivates anandamide. It is a mutation in the FAAH gene that leads to more of the bliss molecule anandamide bathing the brain.

See opinion at: Richard A. Friedman, “The Feel-Good Gene,” The New York Times, March 6, 2015


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