Most patients that I see for Medical Marijuana certification at the clinic have chronic pain. That’s the most common qualifying condition for a MMJ card in the state of Arizona. If anxiety was a qualifying medical condition, then that would equal or surpass the number of patients seen with chronic pain. Nearly every patient that I see at the clinic has anxiety. Either they are acutely anxious because they don’t like going to the doctor, or it’s their first time getting a MMJ card, or they are anxious because that’s how they are wired and it is a chronic condition – an imbalance. I can see the anxiety on their faces. Their eyes are opened wide, they move around in their chair and their heart rate and blood pressure are higher than normal.
Many patients with chronic pain also have anxiety as well as depression and insomnia. These three are the “Emotional Health Deadly Trio”. These three exist more now than ever in our world. The body and mind are always trying to find balance and to seek relief from the trio. This balance that the body seeks is called homeostasis and the body is constantly operating to maintain balance. Without homeostasis, our body temperature would drastically change throughout the day, we would not be able to digest our food or sleep at appropriate times and there would be chaos in our bodies.
Anxiety is something that every person has experienced. It is a part of life. It can help “light the fire under our butts” to get an action accomplished. The anxiety of having to find a job fuels you to get that resume completed and to get to the job interview on time. This “positive stress” is something that we need as humans. It’s when the anxiety rules your life and limits your experiences that it is then out of balance.
There is a compound that the body naturally makes called Anandamide (A-NAAN-DA-MIDE). Is it named from the Sanskrit word: Ananda which means… Bliss. It is part of the endocannabinoid system within the body and it acts as a neurotransmitter and affects all of the other systems in the body. We do not feel blissful ALL the time in life because anandamide does not stay in the body long once it is made, but it does help bring the body into homeostasis and keep it there until another stressor in life arrives.
When speaking the language of anatomy, a system is a collection of organs and tissues that all work together for a purpose. Here are the 12 systems + 1
Nervous (brain, nerves)
Immune (immune cells, antibodies)
Endocrine (produces hormones and coordinates body functions)
Circulatory (heart, blood vessels)
Lymphatic (vessels that toxins, fats)
Digestive (stomach and intestines)
Urinary (urinary bladder, kidneys)
Reproductive (sex organs)
In the 1980s, researchers discovered the endocannabinoid system. This would be likened to finding another planet in our solar system that has been there all the while. Humans, reptiles, birds and fish have this system.
Anandamide (AEA or ADA) was found in the early 1990s. More will be found out about this compound, but for now, we know that it affects memory, mood, pain relief, the reward pathway, appetite and reproduction. An endocannabinoid system that is not functioning at its optimum with resultant low levels of Anandamide have been associated with more chronic pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, insomnia, depression and anxiety, neuropathy, motion sickness and nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, PTSD and autism.
AEA chemical formula: C22H37NO2
Anandamide made from within the body and delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) one of the well known, major compounds found in cannabis, have similar chemical structures and functions. So… our bodies make a compound that is similar to what is found in the Cannabis plant to help bring about homeostasis. I hear many patients reporting that MMJ/Cannabis helps them to feel “normal” and balanced.
THC chemical formula: C21H30O2
What do you do when you are stressed? Do you want to eat a piece of chocolate or eat chocolate ice cream, put a little mocha in your latte, or just pour some Hershey’s chocolate syrup on a tablespoon and take it like it’s medicine? Well, wouldn’t you know it…Anandamide is also naturally found in chocolate. It is no coincidence that both Hershey’s and Cadbury chocolate companies have a chocolate bar called a Bliss bar.
Can you naturally increase your levels of Anandamide in the body? Yes. It can be increased by exercising, eating chocolate and consuming CBD and Cannabis.
Dr. Kimberly Landino has been practicing Naturopathic Medicine in Arizona since 2001. She certifies patients for their MMJ card at All Greens Clinic in Sun City, AZ. Click here for more from Kimberly Landino.