After an intense yoga session, many people report experiencing a feeling of euphoria and calm. All stress and anxiety wash away and the mind is suffused with a sense of lightness and joy as if a heavy weight were lifted off it. The experience can be quite something.
Yoga, research shows, can help regulate the body’s stress response system, which it does by slightly raising its trigger threshold, meaning that you’re no longer in a constant fight-or-flight mode but rather relaxed and at peace. Yoga returns the body to its native homeostatic state. This manipulation of the body’s stress response system, however, is a complex process and involves a whole host of organ systems and biomolecules.
Yoga and anandamide
Until recently it was thought that endorphins were responsible for the ‘blissful feeling’ following a rigorous workout as described above. But a plethora of new research has pointed to an entirely different type of chemical: anandamide. Endorphins, it is now understood, play, if any, a minor role in the whole process; because of their large size they’re unable to pass the blood-brain barrier. Anandamide molecules, on the other hand, are small and can transit freely between blood and brain.
It has been found that during yoga levels of anandamide in the bloodstream rise steadily. There is also a spike in the levels of serotonin, oxytocin, acetylcholine, dopamine, etc. Whereas cortisol, the hormone produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress, shows a sharp decline.

Anandamide - the bliss molecule
The name anandamide comes from the Sanskrit word ‘ananda’ meaning bliss. It is a cannabinoid - an endocannabinoid to be precise - with structure and properties similar to that of other cannabinoids found in cannabis or hemp. Anandamide is what is called a neurotransmitter; it binds to receptor molecules found throughout the body: central and peripheral nervous systems, heart, liver, spleen, reproductive organs, and gastrointestinal and urinary tracts. Given its ubiquitous spread within the human body, it has an overarching influence over any number of physiological processes.

Anandamide is understood to play a key role in appetite regulation, stress response, pain and pleasure perception, motivation, and memory among others. Sub-optimal levels of anandamide, on the other hand, is implicated in stress-related disorders, anxiety, depression, mood swings, etc. So, if you’re feeling down and can’t think of a reason why - we’ve all been there - it could well be because your anandamide reserves are running low.

Fleeting nature of happiness and its gene connection
Happiness is ephemeral. It doesn’t last long. Why? Well, there are no easy answers to this age-old vexing problem. And the human biology, it turns out, doesn’t do much to help either. The case in point being the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) that starts to break down anandamide, the bliss molecule, as soon as it hits the bloodstream. The feeling of high dissipates soon after it kicks in. But all is not lost, for there are a few lucky ones who seem to have escaped the fate reserved for the rest of us: researchers have found that some people have a mutated version of the gene for FAAH, which considerably slows down its catalytic activity. Consequently, these people have elevated levels of anandamide in their blood and are happier in comparison with those born with the regular gene.
Now, the question is: what about the rest of us stuck with the regular gene? Short of a gene mutation - which is not an option, by the way - how do we up our anandamide and happiness quotient?
Well, the simple solution is practice activities and eat foods that are known to boost anandamide levels in some way. That's the best you can do.

Natural ways to boost anandamide production in the body
1. Yoga: Although we talked about yoga right at the start, its value cannot be emphasized enough. A vigorous daily yoga routine will improve your anandamide levels and recharge your heart and mind.
2. CBD: CBD, derived from hemp, is a botanical equivalent of cannabinoids produced by the human body. Regular use of CBD leads to a spike in the anandamide levels, thus helping remedy stress, anxiety, and other such disorders. CBD, it must be remembered, has very weak affinity for the endocannabinoid receptors; its role is purely intermedial. What it does is it prevents the rapid breakdown of FAAH, so a desirable buildup of anandamide is achieved. Besides, unlike its cousin-compound THC, it is non-psychoactive.
3. Chocolate: Turns out the high feeling many people claim to experience upon munching on a bar of chocolate isn’t misplaced after all. Chocolate - dark, unadulterated chocolate, that is - contains a considerable amount of anandamide. It is also known to act compounds which inhibit catalysis of anandamide by FAAH in the body. Furthermore, theobromine found in chocolate is understood to stimulate the brain to produce more anandamide.
4. Truffles: Truffles can be another excellent natural source of anandamide. But unless you’re going to take it upon yourself to go truffle-hunting, truffles, given how expensive they can be, may not be a viable option for most people. Still, if you’re willing to go in for some, the money will most definitely be well-spent.
5. Kaempferol: Kaempferol is a type of flavonoid that hinders the production of FAAH. So, by eating foods that contain this compound you can increase your anandamide levels. Some of the foods that kaempferol are: apples, blackberries, grapes, peaches, Brussel sprouts, cucumbers, squash, spinach, tomatoes, etc.
6. Foods that contain Anandamide precursors: As seen so far they’re only a precious few foods that contain anandamide in appreciable amounts, so you may have to get creative in order to score your hit. Foods like, meats, eggs, and dairy, for example, are rich in arachidonic acid, an essential omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, and an anandamide precursor. Similarly, you should look for foods like olive oil, which contain substantial amounts of linoleic acid, a source for arachidonic acid.

So, if you’re like most people, not blessed with a cool genetic quirk, there is no reason to feel down. After all, genetic mutation is an accident, not something anyone can plan for. But by practicing regular yoga, eating healthy anandamide-rich food and having an occasional sip of CBD oil, you can plan and lead a happy life. Your life is what you make of it.

Author's Bio: 

At Hempure, we believe the foundation of a healthy lifestyle begins with a strong education and understanding of human health. Deriving organically grown, full-spectrum CBD from locally sourced farmers in Colorado, we are incredibly proud to offer some of the world’s most effective CBD supplements at an affordable price. We look to balance mind and body, helping you to feel your best on a daily basis by delivering the enormous range of benefits CBD has to offer!