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