Road to Ananda by Carl Germano, CNS, CDN
Clinical nutritionist and prolific educator and author Carl Germano brings us the timely overview and guide we need to understand the crucial role the endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays in our health and overall sense of wellbeing.
Due in no small part to the stigma surrounding cannabis and hemp, it is only in recent decades the existence and function of the ECS has started to come to light. It is the pivotal physiological modulator that connects body and mind and provides the path to equanimity and “inner bliss”.
Dr Raphael Mechoulam from Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel, was a pioneer in this work (he also wrote the introduction to this book). In 1992, Mechoulam and National Institute of Mental Health research fellows, Dr Lumir Hanus and Dr William Devane discovered the first cannabinoid known to be produced by the human body. They called it anandamide, using the prefix ananda from the Sanskrit for bliss.
The ECS is comprised of a complex network of endocannabinoids and receptors. The two main endocannabinoids are anandamide and another known as 2-AG. These compounds trigger receptors located all over the body and act as an internal network of communication, enabling us to maintain homeostasis in the face of constantly changing and sometimes deeply challenging internal and external environments.
In the normal course of things endocannabinoids break down quite quickly in our bodies. If this happens too rapidly, or if we can’t produce new ones fast enough, we end up in a state of deficiency, and symptoms can develop. These include anxiety, fibromyalgia, migraines, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, and other inflammatory and neurological conditions.
Exercise boosts our levels of endocannabinoids (runner’s high isn’t just about the endorphins) but if more is needed then this is where hemp comes in.
The dominant phytocannabinoid in hemp is called cannabidiol (CBD) and it acts very similarly to anandamide but without the psychoactive effects of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) dominant in marijuana. Although CBD is the dominant phytocannabinoid in hemp, there is a spectrum of over a hundred others, the sum total of which is of much greater value than CBD alone.
Besides the chapter devoted to this topic (full spectrum hemp versus CBD isolate) the other bite-sized chapters in this book include the importance of omega-3 and the role of the ECS in pain and inflammation, sleep, stress/anxiety, bone health, cancer, digestive health, eye health and neurological health.
Road to Ananda should be required reading for medical students as well as bliss-seekers everywhere. It is concise, illustrated throughout and contains a valuable index of references to the relevant clinical research.
Reviewed by Alex Allen, NEXUS UK
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