Among other things, we are united by a desire for happiness. We have always been looking for better places to live, better food, better conditions, and just a better life throughout evolution. We want to be satisfied with ourselves, our lives, the environment and achieve balance. But when we look around today, we cannot fail to notice that the pursuit of happiness has not brought us closer to the desired harmony but, paradoxically, has moved us away.
The researchers are relentless - the incidence of mood disorders, anxiety, depression, and other psychosomatic illnesses is the highest in history and is still growing. So, where do they go wrong? Could cannabinoids be the missing piece of the puzzle?
The Defense Mechanisms Of Our Bodies
Evolution has posed several obstacles, most notably a lack of food, shelter, and threats from various predators. But in modern society, we have to face completely different challenges. We have plenty of food and property, but we are under constant psychological pressure; our food, water, and air contain more and more toxic substances. Society expects us to be great parents and partners, to have hobbies and friends, and at the same time to be successful at work. The human body's defense mechanisms have never dealt with so many problems. What weapons are our bodies equipped with to win this fight? Should we ask ourselves whether ignoring the therapeutic and preventive potential of cannabis is not a much more serious crime than consuming it? In biology classes, we learned about physical barriers - the skin and mucous membranes protect us from attacks from outside, the immune system fights pathogens, the hormonal system allows the regulation of biological functions. But most of us have no idea that there is another defense mechanism that controls the human body's physiological processes - the endocannabinoid system. It consists of endocannabinoids, cannabinoid receptors, and enzymes responsible for the formation and separation of endocannabinoids. The endocannabinoid system's role in human physiology is very well documented and scientifically described. We have a lot of evidence that endocannabinoids affect mood, motivation, memory, happiness, appetite, or metabolism. The connection between cannabinoids and emotions has long been considered proven. It is a known fact that the first-ever thoroughly researched component of cannabis, the cannabinoid Delta 9 THC
, causes euphoria and alters sensory perception.
The Brain Receptors
Since the discovery of cannabinoid receptors, scientists have been amazed by the high density of their occurrence in the brain. In some areas, neurons include more receptors of cannabinoids than any other. At least it seems unusual that our cells are so well adapted to these molecules. Cannabinoids were initially considered a relatively rare substance found mainly in one plant species - cannabis. It was not until scientists discovered arachidonylethanolamide, similar to THC
, later named anandamide, that scientists received the desired response. Our cells have so many cannabinoid receptors simply because the body makes its own cannabinoids, which are essential for its overall health.
Cannabinoids & Emotions
Endocannabinoid research has given us insight into a whole new type of signaling molecule that seems to have a vast field of action. They affect virtually every cell, tissue, and organ. The state of the endocannabinoid system is directly proportional to how we feel. Before this discovery, the researchers assumed that the "molecules of happiness" were serotonin and endorphins because they regulate and control emotions. However, endocannabinoids have been shown to be a completely new biochemical pathway to happiness. The name "anandamide" refers to the word ananda, which means inner happiness. Recent studies also point to a tie between the endocannabinoid system and serotonin. The link between depression, anxiety, mood disorders, and emotions in general and cannabinoids has been reliably confirmed many times and is currently the subject of much research. Positive emotions can be divided into two groups - temporary and permanent. While "temporary" is largely influenced by the circumstances and the current situation in which we find ourselves, "permanent" could be described as overall life satisfaction. Endocannabinoids, like phytocannabinoids, have been found to play a role in both groups of emotions.
On the one hand, the right cannabinoid balance increases our sensitiveness to positive stimulants. But on the other hand, these molecules act as buffers that decrease the impact of negative emotions. In this way, they support positive and eliminate negative influences coming from our surroundings.
The Important Role Of Genetics
The theory that our genetics predetermines our future is, to some extent, true in this case as well. There are small variations in the genes responsible for the existence of CB1 receptors, which are of great importance. People with a specific genetic code for CB1 receptors are generally happier and better respond to positive perceptions. However, it is not just the receptors that matter - our emotional state is greatly affected by endocannabinoid levels or the ability to cope with stress. Cannabinoids play an important role in the body's response to stress. The human body excretes endocannabinoids in response to various stress triggers, such as temperature changes, injury, the presence of pathogens and toxins, or emotional stress. Their task is defense - they protect us from the physiological consequences of anxiety. However, if the body is overloaded for a long time, its defense mechanisms are weakened, leading to depression-like symptoms. The ability to withstand stress or, conversely, to focus on positive perceptions is directly related to the state of our endocannabinoid system. Thus, endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids affect the biochemical functions responsible for processing stress and emotions. When we are exposed to stress, and at the same time, we respond to positive perceptions, the centers with the highest density of cannabinoid receptors are activated in the brain, confirming the direct anatomical link between cannabinoids and happiness. Because the areas of the brain that show the highest sensitivity to positive sensations and stress also have the highest concentrations of cannabinoid receptors. Therefore they are most sensitive to endocannabinoids and phytocannabinoids.
The way we deal with stress and respond to positive situations determines our satisfaction with ourselves and life. The level of cannabinoids and the number of receptors of the endocannabinoid system are very individual. Therefore, it is not surprising that the same variety of cannabis or cannabinoid concentrations can have diametrically different effects on different individuals. When phytocannabinoids enter the body, they react with the individual endocannabinoid system. So they may manifest themselves differently in people with various receptor densities or different levels of endocannabinoids.
Biochemistry of happiness
But the whole thing is much more complicated because our positive perceptions are also different. Some people have a pleasant idea of climbing the snowy mountain peaks. Others prefer beaches, the sea, and the blue sky. One may perceive the same situation positively, while the other sees it as threatening and stressful. We know that the modern lifestyle is exhausting for the human body and places high demands on our immune system. Therefore, the use of natural phytocannabinoids, which protect our defenses and keep them alert, seems to be a logical step.
The paths we take in the pursuit of happiness are as individual as the endocannabinoid system. How we perceive our surroundings and respond to them predetermines our physical and mental responses. However, the biochemistry of happiness is the same for all people, and the cannabinoids and endocannabinoid systems play a crucial role in the long run. They cannot, therefore, be overlooked and denied their importance. Thus, the care of the endocannabinoid system and its proper nutrition is very important. We must be able to recognize signs of general fatigue and disturbed internal balance in time and thus prevent endocannabinoid system failure, which then leads to mood swings and other, more serious mental disorders.