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Some of us get more joy out of endurance activities than others. One neurotransmitter that plays a significant roll and has been associated with the “runners high” is Anandamide (AEA).  There are two interesting things about anandamides name and labeling.
  • The word ananda in sanskrit means bliss.
  • Anandamide is part of our endocannabinoid system and ironically enough has been named with a “420” in it’s SNP rs324420().
Exploring the FAAH SNP rs324420():

There are three genotypes for this SNP. You can lookup your 23andMe or Ancestry.com results to see which category you fall into.
  1. (C,C) – 67% of the population has this configuration.  This means normal breakdown of anandamide from full FAAH production.
  2. (A,C) represents 30% of the population and currently appears to be the best mix of joy for a endurance athlete.
  3. (A,A) is uncommon at 3% of the population having this configuration. This means that FAAH enzymatic activity is halved and the risk for substance abuse (not marijuana derivatives) goes up by 5x with the high anandamide staying in the system longer.
Can I Hack My FAAH Gene for more Bliss?

Looking to feel the extended effects of anandamide, but stuck with the C,C configuration of rs324420? I can share one horrific story with you. In 2016 a clinical trial in France was testing the experimental drug BIA-10-2474 developed by a Portuguese pharmaceutical company. This drug was designed to inhibit FAAH activity letting anandamide stay in the system longer. Unfortunately, things went horribly wrong resulting in the death of one participant. That being said the old fashioned way to get bliss out of your endocannabinoid system is through chocolate, CBDs or THC products.
The Takeaway

Long-distance runners often talk about endorphins which are opioids that do increase during exercise.  It is important to note that endocannabinoids such as anandamide also play a significant role. The majority of the population has their bliss quickly erased by FAAH enzymatic breakdown. However, the remaining 33% of the population likely experiences more joy, tends to be calmer overall and has shown less interest in ingesting exogenous cannabinoids such as THC or CBD.
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