It now appears that stimulation of anandamide has been controlled using a chemical called URB597, and has produced improved moods among test patients in early clinical tests. Bottom line - we could have runners high in a pill!
The key to this breakthrough by UC Irvine researchers was using URB597 to increase the production of anandamide by blocking their degradation, resulting in measurable antidepressant effects. Anandamide, like other endocannabinoids, is a very fragile compound, so slowing degradation can have as powerful an effect as producing more. The result? Improved mood with less side effects than similar anti-depressants like THC, and far less wear and tear on your body than a 90-mile per week regiment.
However, it may not be for everybody; a quote from the press release clarifies:
"The results were similar to the effect we might expect from the use of commonly prescribed antidepressants, which are effective on only around 30% of the population," explains Dr. Gobbi. "Our discovery strengthens the case for URB597 as a safer, non-addictive, non-psychotropic alternative to cannabis for the treatment of pain and depression and provides hope for the development of an alternate line of antidepressants, with a wider range of effectiveness."Eager to try it out? It appears you can buy the chemical directly from Cayman Chemical, or you can wait for Kadmus Pharmaceuticals to finish their human clinical trials. I've already contacted Kadmus to let them know I'm available. ;-)
I get very excited when reading about this research, simply because I have been a much happier person since finding trail running. I've found a spiritual and physical connection with the world that I didn't know existed. There is a lot more to this sensation than the runners high (ie, being outdoors, regular exercise, escape from media, etc.), but it gives me hope that some people might be able to get the same feeling even if their knees can't keep pace.
And how funny is it that it's called URB597 (herb? get it?)? If Stan Jensen hadn't already claimed the domain name, perhaps we could rename it "RUN100". ;-)
Thanks for letting me geek out on you guys a bit.
PS - In other anandamide research (in case you are doing a paper or something), recent studies by Oliver Ullrich and colleagues shows that the anandamide endocannabinoid protects neurons from inflammation after brain injury by suppressing the production of inflammation-causing nitric oxide, which would otherwise cause brain injury. Although this is unrelated to the neurological effects (ie, runners high), it does point to an additional role of anandamide - that of "gatekeeper" between the brain and the immune system - which could lead to applications to help brain disease like multiple sclerosis.