Anandamide is a natural neurotransmitter found in the brain that binds to the same neuroreceptors as do cannabinoids. [1] [2] Current research suggests that cannabinoids are very similar to anandamide, which regulates mood, memory, pain, movement, and appetite. [3] Although these recent findings are not thoroughly understood, it is clear that cannabis affects the brain in ways completely dissimilar to other drugs, in accordance with natural neurochemical pathways.

The 1988 discovery of the CB1 receptor, found abundant in the brain, and the 1992 discovery of the CB2 receptor found throughout the body, clearly distinguish cannabinoid compounds from other substances. [4] Cannabinoids bind to anandamide receptors in the frontal lobes of the brain, according o research published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. [5]

Anadamide is thoguht to be key to the anti-emetic (hunger-inducing) properties of cananbis. Recent studies indicate:

“Anandamide induces overeating in rats through a CB1 receptor mediated mechanism. Cannabinoid agonists inhibit the activation of 5-HT3 receptors, a possible mechanism of their anti-emetic effect. Cannabinoid agonists inhibit gastrointestinal motility and gastric emptying in rats. In a recent double-blind study in healthy individuals, an oral dose of delta-9-THC of 10mg/m2 caused a significant delay in gastric emptying compared to placebo. In addition, CB agonists inhibited pentabastrin-induced gastric acid secretion in the rat, presumably by a CB receptor dependent process.”[6]

[1] Devane, et al. Science, Vol. 258, pp. 1946-1949, 1992

[2] Axelrod, “Enzymatic synthesis of anandamide, an endogenous ligand for the cannabinoid receptor, by brain membranes.” Laboratory of Cell Biology, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda MD, 1997

[3] Fackelman, “Marijuana and the brain: scientists discover the brain’s own THC.” Science News, Vol. 143, No. 6, p. 88, February 6, 1998

[4] Finn, “Cannabinoid Investigations Entering The Mainstream.” The Scientist, Vol. 12, No. 3, pp. 1-8, February 2, 1998

[5] Beltramo and Piomelli, “Functional role of high-affinity anandamide transport, as revealed by selective inhibition,” Science, Vol. 277, No. 5329, p. 1094(4), August 22, 1997

[6] Grotenhermen, Russo. Cannabis and Cannabinoids: Pharmacology, Toxicology, and Therapeutic Potential . New York: The Hawthorn Integrative Healing Press, 2002, Grotenhermen, “Effects of Cannabis and the Cannabinoids.” Chapter 5, p. 61-62