Endo-cannabinoids are like the body’s natural THC. In fact, endocannabinoids got their name from cannabis. Plant cannabinoids were discovered first. Endo means within, and cannabinoid referring to a compound that fits into cannabinoid receptors.
There are two main endocannabinoid molecules, named anandamide and 2-Ag. Funny thing is, scientists wouldn’t have discovered anandamide without THC. Psychoactive (THC) was first discovered by Israeli scientist Raphael Mechoulam back in the 1960s. His finding quickly spurred a rush to figure out how THC worked, and whether or not our own bodies produced a similar compound.
More than two decades after the search began, anandamide was found. Yet, once they isolated the chemical, they faced another challenge. What should it be called? They turned to Sanskrit. Anandamide comes from the Sanskrit word Ananda, which means bliss. So, basically, anandamide means bliss molecule.
Anandamide is a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that binds to the THC receptors. It is considered an endocannabinoid— a substance produced in the body that binds to cannabinoid receptors.
Eventually, anandamide was found to do a lot more than produce a state of heightened happiness. It’s synthesized in areas of the brain that are important in memory, motivation, higher thought processes, and movement control.
Anandamide, like all neurotransmitters, is fragile and breaks down quickly in the body which is why it doesn’t produce a perpetual state of bliss.
2AG (2-Arachidonyl glycerol)
2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) is the other main endocannabinoid, that along with anandamide, has an effect on the CB receptors in the body. Specifically, 2-AG is a full agonist of both CB receptors, and is the primary ligand (binding molecule) for the CB2 receptor.
2-AG is the most abundant endocannabinoid found in the body, and like anandamide, is thought to play an important role in the regulation of general health when incorporated into a healthy lifestyle.
2-Arachidonyl glyceryl ether (noladin ether)
In 2001, a third, ether-type endocannabinoid, 2-arachidonyl glyceryl ether (noladin ether), was isolated from porcine brain. Prior to this discovery, it had been synthesized as a stable analog of 2-AG; indeed, some controversy remains over its classification as an endocannabinoid, as another group failed to detect the substance at "any appreciable amount" in the brains of several different mammalian species. It binds primarily to the CB1 receptor, and only weakly to the CB2 receptor.
N-Arachidonoyl dopamine (NADA)
Discovered in 2000, NADA preferentially binds to the CB1 receptor. Like anandamide, NADA is also an agonist for the vanilloid receptor sub type 1 (TRPV1), a member of the vanilloid receptor family.
A fifth endocannabinoid, virodhamine, or O-arachidonoyl-ethanolamine (OAE), was discovered in June 2002. Although it is a full agonist at CB2 and a partial agonist at CB1, it behaves as a CB1 antagonist in. In rats, virodhamine was found to be present at comparable or slightly lower concentrations than anandamide in the brain, but 2- to 9-fold higher concentrations peripherally
Recent evidence has highlighted lysophosphatidylinositol as the endogenous ligand to novel endocannabinoid receptor GPR55, making it a strong contender as the sixth endocannabinoid.