Summer is here and of course the gays are ushering in another fabulous summer of fun in the Bay Area. While the festivities around PRIDE month are fun, the need to have the awareness is still very present. The hate in this country is reaching a fever a pitch, but this particular group has always been the recipient of a large share of the worst kinds of hate. Hate born out of fear or lack of understanding can be so hard to overcome because it requires a paradigm shift and that's no easy feat. Humans are a complicated bunch and making assumptions is something we do constantly. Assumptions damage our capacity to relate to others. If you are always assuming you know how others think and feel, you stop listening and communicating. Assumptions tend to involve negative thought as doubts. Cognitive behavioral research has shown, our thoughts create our feelings which create our actions, so if your head is full of negative assumptions it’s highly more likely that we are triggering ourselves into dangerous situations. If we can contribute anything at all to making this world a better place, I think we could start with making less assumptions about things we know nothing about. Be curious when those fears creep in, ask questions and learn about something we'd otherwise miss this summer. Its the least we can do for our fellow humans. Now get out there and love your hearts out kids, we could all use more of those vibes floating around.
CHECK OUT SOME OF THE BAY AREA EVENTS
Anandamide, also known as the “bliss molecule,” was discovered in 1992 and is a cannabinoid that is naturally manufactured by the body. Also called an endocannabinoid, it binds with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, which are situated in cell membranes of certain tissues, including the brain. In fact, the very presence of the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain initiated an investigation that led to the discovery of anandamide. Although further research is needed, there is evidence that anandamide and CBD share a connection that is beneficial to the body.
Let’s take a closer look at anandamide and importantly, the relationship between anandamide and CBD.
What is Anandamide?
Anandamide is one of the main endogenous cannabinoids in the body.The other one is 2-arachidonoyl glycerol (2-AG). Both are similar to neurotransmitters in function because of their ability to send chemical messages between neurons, also called nerve cells. Anandamide affects brain areas that influence memory, thinking, pleasure, concentration, movement and coordination, as well as sensory and time perception. 
The term anandamide originates from the Sanskrit word ānanda,which means bliss or happiness. The term endogenous means that anandamide is made in the body, by the body, unlike CBD and THC, which are cannabinoids derived from plants. They are distinguished asphytocannabinoids. 
What is Cannabidiol (CBD)?
CBD is one of the major phytocannabinoids found in cannabis. It accounts for up to 40% of cannabis extract. There is a common misconception that CBD is the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, when in fact, CBDis psychoactive (meaning it can affect brain chemistry, and cause symptoms such as somnolence), but it isnotpsychotropic. This means that it doesn’t produce mind-altering effects such as paranoid delusions, or the euphoric “high” recreational users are after. At most, it leaves the user with a sense of deep relaxation and calm that can lead to sleepiness.
This is why CBD is considered as a remedy with a much greater therapeutic potential by researchers and users wanting to avoid the mind-altering effects of THC. Several studies show that CBD has anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory, and antitumorigenic activities.
How Anandamide and CBD Benefit the Body
The way anandamide is synthesized and released in the body remains uncertain. Both CB1 and CB2 receptors are activated by anandamide and 2-AG.
The CB1 receptor is associated with the psychotropic effects of THC. Its stimulation also plays a role in regulating pain, stress responses, emotions, and energy. 
Compared to THC, CBD has a low affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors. If present in higher concentrations, CBD can act as an indirect CB1 antagonist,which means that it blocks or decreases a biological response mediated by the receptor. A receptor agonist, such as THC, stimulates and activates the receptor.
Effects of Anandamide and CBD on Epilepsy
Several studies proved that both THC and CBD produced anticonvulsant effects in rodents. Aside from phytocannabinoids, anandamide levels also seem to play a role in epilepsy. “There is also evidence of dysfunction in the endocannabinoid systems in epilepsy. Patients who were newly diagnosed with temporal lobe epilepsy have significantly lower levels of anandamide in cerebrospinal fluid compared with healthy counterparts.” 
CBD is known to down regulate--decrease in the cell—the amount of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) enzymes. FAAH is responsible for breaking down anandamide in the body. Through this down regulation, CBD could be enhancing the effects of anandamide. The reasoning is that less FAAH enzymes equal higher levels of anandamide in the body. This could mean that by taking CBD oil, individuals suffering from epilepsy may be benefiting from increasing their levels of anandamide. Whatever the exact mechanism, enough studies have demonstrated a decrease in seizure frequency and severity after CBD administration to have prompted the recent FDA approval of a CBD-based anti-epilepsy drug.
The Effects of Anandamide On Cancer
According to recent evidence, the endocannabinoid system and its endocannabinoids can play an important role in cancer therapy. This is because studies suggest that anandamide can be a new therapy to treat malignant lymphoblastic diseases. Available evidence suggests that anandamide has a role in apoptosis (cell death), as it is believed to be a modulator of cell survival and death. 
Cannabidiol, Anandamide, and Schizophrenia
We already know that cannabidiol has low affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors. We also know that it inhibits the degradation of anandamide. One study in patients with schizophrenia suggests that increased levels of anandamide (in this case by using CBD), could be helpful to treat patients with acute schizophrenia.
The 2012, double-blind, randomized clinical trial looked at the effects of cannabidiol vs amisulpride--a potent antipsychotic—in patients with acute schizophrenia. The researchers had already found that "... an elevation of anandamide levels in cerebrospinal fluid inversely correlated to psychotic symptoms." This means that in another study, they have observed that the more anandamide increased in the patients' spinal fluid, the more the patients' psychotic symptoms decreased. In this study, they wanted to test their theory, using cannabidiol that prevents the degradation (and therefore the decrease) of anandamide.
Both CBD and amisulpride were given to the patients for 28 days. The trial resulted in excellent clinical improvements, where patients showed a positive reaction to both cannabidiol and amisulpride treatment. CBD presented with a much more favorable side-effect profile, though. The researchers concluded that“ inhibition of anandamide deactivation may contribute to the antipsychotic effects of cannabidiol, potentially representing a completely new mechanism in the treatment of schizophrenia.” 
What does this mean? It indicates that cannabidiol may indirectly enhance anandamide signaling by preventing its degradation inside the cell, a process which is caused by the FAAH enzyme. 
Although there is still plenty of room for more research, we can conclude that the relationship between anandamide and CBD is highly valuable to the body.
HOW TO BOOST ANADAMIDE NATURALLY
Endocannabinoid System — Regulates Mood Anandamide is part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), alongside 2-AG, another cannabis-like chemical, and the endocannabinoid receptors found throughout the body. Present in all vertebrates, the system is classed as a homeostatic regulator, meaning it is constantly working to bring about a state of balance to our bodies and minds.
Not surprisingly, our mood, happiness, fear, anxiety, and ability to endure stress are all regulated by the endocannabinoid system, with out of whack anandamide levels associated with everything from schizophrenia to depression. Anandamide is produced on demand by the body and then broken down rapidly by the same FAAH enzyme that is lacking in the genetic mutation. So in effect, scientists believe that the subjects’ enhanced levels of happiness are a direct result of having more anandamide in their system. So, sometimes it’s good to be mutated.
Scientific research has backed up the supposition. A study at the University of Calgary compared a group of genetically happy humans with rodents that had been injected with the same rogue gene, finding both mice and men had higher levels of anandamide and a greater ability to extinguish fear based memories.
Both groups shared greater connectivity between the cognitive planning centre, the prefrontal cortex, and the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for remembering emotions, in particular fear. The implication being that better communication between these two key centres leads to lower anxiety levels and increased emotional stability. It would seem then that robust levels of anandamide in our bodies are inextricably linked to feelings of wellbeing and happiness, and a lack of them to depression and anxiety. So what can we do to give this bliss provoking neurotransmitter a natural boost?
Enjoy a Runner’s High
Most people associate the buzz felt after running with what’s been termed as an ‘endorphin rush’. But that’s only part of the story. Scientists have found that after 30 minutes of exercise anandamide levels increase. Assistant Professor of Biology Greg Gerdeman describes how ‘in one study, we found that the increase of feelings of wellbeing in patients was tightly correlated to levels of anandamide in their bloodstream. So we started talking about anandamide as a neurobiological reward for running. It makes you feel good. It’s no surprise that one way of stimulating the endocannabinoid system is through the introduction of botanical cannabinoids into the body derived from the cannabis plant. As mentioned previously, THC fits perfectly into the endocannabinoid receptors found throughout the brain and central nervous system, creating the high or stoned effect. It’s a different story though when it comes to CBD or Cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive, second most abundant cannabinoid found in cannabis. CBD has very little binding affinity with the endocannabinoid receptors, and yet scientists have observed that its administration leads to increased anandamide levels. They realised that CBD inhibits the FAAH enzyme responsible for breaking down anandamide in the body. So in a similar vein to our genetic variant subjects, less FAAH means more anandamide stays in the body for longer, with potentially mood boosting and anxiety reducing effects. This is backed up by research including a small pilot study on subjects with social anxiety that showed CBD could reduce feelings of discomfort and cognitive impairment during a simulated public speaking test.
Turns out that chocolate offers a two pronged approach to boosting anandamide; by stimulating the endocannabinoid receptors, and like CBD, blocking anandamide’s metabolization. But we’re not talking any old chocolate here, only quality dark chocolate will do, without the sugar and rubbish that generally gets thrown in. But still, not a bad reason to crack open a chocolate bar.
Go Truffle Hunting
Perhaps not the most practical way to boost anandamide levels, and you may need to find a spare pig to go direct to source, but scientists have discovered that anandamide can be found in the culinary delicacy, black truffles. Curiously, unlike other vertebrates with a developed endocannabinoid system, truffles don’t possess any accompanying receptors, suggesting that the anandamide present doesn’t trigger any biological effect. Instead it might have developed as a way of tempting animals into eating the truffles, a process that releases their spores and allows them to propagate.
Kaempferol is a type of flavonoid present in a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables such as apples, tomatoes, grapes, potatoes, onions, and broccoli. Studies already point to Kaempferol as having potential anti-cancer action, but it has also been found to inhibit the production of our old friend FAAH — the enzyme that breaks down anandamide. So far, most research into Kaempferol has been done in test tubes, and scientists believe it is unlikely that this could be upscaled sufficiently to make FAAH inhibition occur through dietary intake. However, if it means we have an extra excuse to get our 5 fruit and veg a day, then what’s not to like.
YOGA SEQUENCE FOR STRESS RELIEF
What it is: One of the keys to a mindful yoga flow is beginning the practice by assessing where you are at and building the mind-body connecting. Breath work does just this. And yes, it’s as simple as it sounds, you focus on your breath.
Start by sitting up tall, or laying down on your back. Close your eyes and place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Take a deep breath in and then exhale everything through your mouth. Repeat x 3. Then breathe in for 3, hold at the top and then exhale to 4. Repeat x 10 or until you feel grounded. Place the emphasis on the exhale.
How it helps with stress: Slowing your breath down calms your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode) and stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). Emphasis on the exhale helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (the opposite is true of inhalation) which is why you focus your breath on the exhale.
Helpful tip: Try incorporating a mantra as you breathe. I like to say (to myself) “I invite in” on the inhale and “I release” on the exhale.
What it is: One of the classic resting postures, child’s pose is key feeling grounded in a yoga practice. On bent knees simply fold over with your arms in front of you laying flat on the floor. Sit back on your heels. Release your shoulders so they aren’t at your ears. Breathe for 10 breaths.
How it helps with stress: Child’s pose helps to calm the mind and releases tension from the neck and shoulders.
Helpful tips: Place a pillow or two underneath your belly to make this posture more restorative.
What it is: Come onto all fours. Plant your shins and palms firm into the mat with all 10 fingers spread wide. Keep your knees at a 45 degree angle and your shoulders over your hands. Inhale and begin placing a curve in your back bringing your navel to the earth and your heart open in front of you (cow). On an exhale reverse the movement bringing an arch into your your spine pulling the center of your spine up to the ceiling (cat). Repeat x 3 or as desired.
How it helps with stress: Provides a gentle massage of the spine while also helping to relax the neck and shoulders.
Helpful tips: If you have any pain in your knees place a blanket underneath them.
Downward Facing DogWhat it is: From hands and knees lift your knees away from the floor. At first keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back and lift the sitting bones toward the ceiling. Push the tops of the thighs back and stretch your heels toward the floor. Straighten your knees but don’t lock them. Pull your shoulder blades down your back and spread all 10 fingers in the earth. Breathe!
How it helps with stress: Stress can often be associated with back pain. Down dog stretches the entire length of the back helping to relieve tension associate with back pain.
Helpful tips: If you’re having wrist pain come down onto forearms. Drop down to your knees at any point.
Low Lunge (both legs)
What it is: From all fours or down dog step one leg between your hands, keeping a 90 degree angle at your knee. Lower your back leg down to the earth. As you continue to breathe deeply, soften the weight of your body down into your hips, and draw your tailbone down toward the ground. Stay here for three breaths. Push back into downward facing dog and step through with the opposite foot. Repeat other side.
How it helps with stress: I don’t know about you but I carry all my stress in my hips. Oftentimes we’re stressed out by work where we’re sitting all day. It’s only natural we hold tension in our hip flexors. A gentle low lunge can help release the tension in addition to stretching out the quads.
Helpful tips: place a blanket under your knees if you have any knee pain. For an advanced posture reach hands toward the sky.
Standing Forward Fold
What it is: Forward fold is pretty straight-forward and accessible to most people. Start by standing hips distance apart and slowly roll down folding at your hips or if coming from cat/cow push up on your heels and walk your hands to your feet. Keep your knees as bent as you need and clasp opposite elbows to release the neck. Pull your heart towards your thighs and breathe for 10 breaths. Slowly release and roll up or walk forward into downward facing dog.
How it helps stress: stretches hamstrings and releases tension in lower back. Can also help reduce blood pressure but be cautious coming in and out.
Helpful tips: The goal is not straight legs, but a straight spine pulling towards your thighs. This can also be done seated if preferred.
Repeat child’s pose –> forward fold –> downward dog –> low lunge x 3
What it is: The ultimate relaxation pose! Many people associate savasana with sleep which can absolutely be true, but the special thing about savasana is that it’s one of the few postures where our muscles are 100% relaxed (including our mind) which is untrue of sleep where our muscles are actually still working!
How it helps stress: When was the last time you intentionally allowed yourself to relax without any kind of distraction? Probably not as often as you’d like. This is your chance.
Helpful tips: Get yourself as cozy as possible so you can relax entirely into the posture
Not long ago, the U.S. government prohibited almost all research into the effects of marijuana, now increasingly called cannabis. But in recent years, 28 states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana, and seven states have also legalized its recreational use. One welcome consequence has been a modest increase in research into its effects—including its impact on lovemaking. Three recent reports show that around two-thirds of users find it sex-enhancing.
The Three Recent Studies
Researchers at St. Louis University in Missouri surveyed 133 adult women during annual gynecology check-ups. Thirty-eight (29 percent) reported having used cannabis shortly prior to partner sex. Of that group, 16 percent said it ruined sex, 68 percent said it made sex “more pleasurable,” and 16 percent expressed no opinion. Among those who called cannabis sex enhancing, almost three-quarters (72 percent) said it always increased their erotic pleasure, while 24 percent said it sometimes did. Almost two-thirds (62 percent) said it increased their libidos and the pleasure of orgasm. In addition, 16 percent of users reported consuming cannabis prior to sex specifically to relieve pain that interfered with it.
Next, the same team surveyed a larger group, 289 adult women, during gynecology check-ups. The results echoed the first study. Among the findings were that 33 percent said they’d used cannabis prior to sex. Users and abstainers were demographically similar, with no significant differences in overall health, libido, sexual function, orgasm, or sexual satisfaction. Among users, 3 percent called the herb sex-killing, 65 percent deemed it enhancing, 23 percent said it made no difference, and 9 percent expressed no opinion.
Finally, Stanford researchers conducted the largest study to date. They extracted information about sex and marijuana from three installments of the large, ongoing National Survey of Family Growth—data from 2002, 2006-2010, and 2011-2015. Their total data set included 28,176 women and 22,943 men, average age 30, who formed a reasonably representative sample of the U.S. population. Compared with cannabis abstainers, men who used it weekly reported 22 percent more sex, women 34 percent more. Among those who used marijuana more than weekly, sexual frequency increased even more. This study did not ask if participants found cannabis sex-enhancing, but to an extent, that can be inferred.
These studies confirm and extend previous reports. Most studies--including my own informal survey of readers of a previous blog post—show that around two-thirds of people call cannabis sex-enhancing. This group generally says the drug increases their enjoyment of sensual pleasure and helps them focus intently on their partner. Around 20 percent call it sex-killing, saying the drug makes them withdraw from partners into themselves, which destroys their erotic connection to lovers. And around 15 percent say marijuana’s sexual effects depend on other factors: the strain (sativaor indica), their mood, and their feelings for the other person.
Cannabis Vs. Alcohol
Meanwhile, the drug most widely used prior to sex is alcohol. Many people lose their virginity drunk and quite a few pairs booze and sex throughout life. But depending on one’s weight and tolerance, two or more drinks increasingly depress the central nervous system. This raises risk of erection impairment in men and reduced clitoral sensitivity in women. And in both genders, drunk sex reduces the pleasure of orgasm and decreases sexual satisfaction. In addition, the combination of sex and alcohol greatly increases women’s risk of sexual assault.
article continues after advertisementI’m not advocating marijuana for sex. That's up to you. Many lovers value total sobriety during lovemaking, and more power to them. But if you feel inclined to combine lovemaking with a recreational drug, know that for most lovers, marijuana seems to be sex-enhancing, while drunk sex is often lousy sex. Unlike alcohol, no study has ever shown cannabis to impair sexual function. And to date, marijuana has never been shown to increase risk of sexual assault.
One Cannabis Caveat
With edibles, dose control is more difficult than with smoking or vaping. Label recommendations can’t be trusted. And edibles may take an hour to produce their effects, so while waiting to get high, some people feel tempted to eat more than they can comfortably handle. In states with legal recreational cannabis, almost all emergency room admissions have involved edibles—people eating too much and later regretting it—suggesting a need for careful experimentation with dosage and timing.
The Ultimate Guide to Golden Milk, Everything You Need to Know
Gaia Herbs Team • October 20, 2016
Golden Milk is based on the traditional Ayurvedic recipe that has been savored for centuries and used to support the mind and body in a number of ways.* Making Golden Milk from scratch only takes about 15 minutes - if you have all the ingredients already on hand - but in today's busy world, sometimes even that can feel like an insurmountable task. That's why we created our own convenient version, which honors the Ayurvedic roots of this nourishing drink - and acknowledges the realities of our over scheduled lives. Gaia Herbs Golden Milk is vegan and gluten-free with no GMOs or soy, with natural sweetness from Dates. Golden Milk is a convenient modern spin on a revered ancient drink.
Turmeric is a versatile herb that supports a healthy inflammatory response in the whole body while maintaining overall health and vitality.* Turmeric offers whole-body support, with both antioxidant support and support for a healthy inflammatory response.* (Read more about using Turmeric for cooking and taking it as a supplement.)
Black Pepper Traditionally paired with Turmeric to support absorption, Black Pepper also adds a hint of spiciness.* This herb is very common in Ayurveda, and it is traditionally considered to be a hot, pungent herb. As such, it stokes digestive fire, called agni, by promoting the natural release of digestive secretions.* It was actually called the "King of Spices."
Vanilla The sweet aroma of this herb has long been used to naturally boost mood.* Plus, it just tastes so good in warm milk! Traditionally, Vanilla was considered to be an aromatic herb that supports the nervous system, and it was used to support a healthy libido.*
Ashwagandha Valued in Ayurveda, this adaptogen tonifies the entire system.* Ashwagandha is one of the most popular Ayurvedic herbs used today. This herb is both a tonic, meaning it supports the body's overall wellbeing, and an adaptogen, meaning it supports the body's natural resistance.*
Cardamom This aromatic herb has a long history of supporting the digestive system.* A relative of Ginger, Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) was called the "Queen of Spices" in Ayurveda, where it is commonly used. It supports elimination of intestinal gas, while improving digestive function.*
Dates This naturally rich, sweet fruit is a source of vitamins and minerals. Dates have a complex sweet taste similar to caramel, making them a popular swap for sugar.
Ginger is a common addition to support digestion and add spiciness.* Allspice, Cloves, Mace and Nutmeg are sometimes used, too. Saffron - which has been used in Ayurveda to support a healthy mood - can also be added.*
Making Golden Milk is easy. Follow these basic steps to make this Turmeric-based beverage:
Prep Time: 1 min Cook Time: 5 min
You can also follow this if you prefer a true D.I.Y. experience.
Tip: Personalize your Golden Milk by adding any of Gaia’s Liquid Herbal Extracts to suit your tastes and support your health.* Add a dropperful of Ginger for tasty digestive support, or try Holy Basil for stress support.*
4 Ways to Customize Golden Milk with Herbs
There's no wrong way to consume Golden Milk, so you can really get creative and make it your own. If you're a fan of using herbal supplements in your food and beverages, you can customize your Golden Milk by adding other herbs. We like liquid herbal extracts of:
How to Incorporate Golden Milk into Your Daily Routine.
Here are five easy ways to start adding Golden Milk into your daily routine:
Swap in a different milk
Use whole milk with cream on top for a particularly rich cup of Turmeric tea. Use coconut, cashew or almond milk - maybe even one with extra vanilla flavor. You can also top it with whipped cream or coconut cream. Or use your "everyday" milk but stir in a special honey. This sweet drink is worth sipping slowly! You could also use a honey swizzle stick or melt a dark brown sugar cube in the bottom for a rich sweetness to the last drop.
Drink it instead of coffee or tea.
Sometimes it's not the caffeine we crave but the ritual surrounding having a fresh, hot cup of our favorite beverage. "Turmeric tea" doesn't require any fancy equipment like that morning cup of pour-over coffee, but it does involve a few mindful steps. There's an aromatic component that triggers our olfactory bulb to signal to the brain that the scent is a pleasant one, thus releasing serotonin and other feel-good hormones. Breathe deeply to inhale the scents of each herb, and savor every sip.
Garnish it as you would you a regular latte.
Try a sprinkle of cinnamon or cardamom, an extra dash of vanilla or a pinch of nutmeg. Add frothy milk, use a dollop of whipped cream (can you tell we really like this idea?) or sweeten it to taste. Or try a sprinkle of vanilla- or cardamom-infused raw sugar.
Blend it with goji berries or whole, pitted dates,. For antioxidant support, blend your milk with a tablespoon or two of goji berry powder before whisking into your Golden Milk.* Whole, pitted dates are a caramellike natural sweetener that can be used in place of honey, making it vegan, too!
Why Golden Milk?
Taking the time to treat yourself to a comforting, nourishing drink is an act of mindfulness. Imagine, after a long day of work, curling up in your favorite chair and wrapping your hands around a steaming mug full of rich, creamy milk that's slightly spicy and sweet. That's your Golden Hour, no matter how long you stay present. Because there is no caffeine in Golden Milk, you can have your Golden Hour any time of day without worry that you'll be up all night.
How do we find Golden Hour?
History of Golden Milk
Golden Milk is having a moment, but while this warm, comforting beverage seems like a new and trendy drink - invented, perhaps, by a clever barista - this Turmeric latte actually has a long, rich tradition of use dating back thousands of years. Within the ancient branch of medicine in India known as Ayurveda, Golden Milk is a tonic that's meant to be nourishing, while also tasting delicious.
Ojas, meaning vigor in Sanskrit, is the essential energy of life, and it's said that Golden Milk - or haldi ka doodh as it's traditionally known - helps to naturally strengthen that vitality. The ojas circulates to sustain the body and support clarity of mind and emotions. With one sip, you'll understand. Just as in the West, warm milk has been used as a comforting bedtime beverage, "Turmeric tea" has served the same purpose. Other herbs can be added (and always have been) to offer additional support as desired.*