Anandamide – The Creativity Secret Weapon

Anandamide - The Creativity Secret Weapon

For most nootropics enthusiasts and brain hacking lovers, there are few neuro chemicals that aren’t familiar. We may not always know every detail about dopamine or norepinephrine, but we have heard the name before. Anandamide is far less well known, but is arguably the most important missing component of the creativity puzzle. Creativity is one of the most elusive skills despite its importance in the modern era. As machines start completing any and all repetitive tasks, creativity and ingenuity becomes all-important. Anandamide is one of the brain chemicals that allows us to achieve that.

Ecstasis and Anandamide

Anandamide, a fatty acid neurotransmitter, derives from specific omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Although most diets likely contain sufficient fats to produce ample anandamide, they may not always utilize it effectively. Information and research around anandamide is scarce, but first entered the mainstream with flow researcher Steven Kotler. In his recent interview with Joe Rogan, Kotler describes how to get into a flow state and he mentions anandamide prominently. According to Kotler’s interview, and the follow-up book Stealing Fire, anandamide helps increase lateral thinking. This skill allows our brain to hold a higher volume of information (think working memory) in order to have more connections and thus ideas. This is the definition of creativity in a functional sense.

With a variety of ideas in the brain, it’s possible to connect two disparate concepts and create something unique. Almost every knowledge worker or student could benefit from the ability to hold these ideas together. Along with chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, serotonin, and oxytocin, the anandamide molecule is integral for flow states that produce creativity and a cascade of new ideas. Unlike most writers, Kotler (and his partner Jamie Wheal) isn’t creating fact from fiction. Evidence is scarce, but does point towards increased cognition and creative states.


Beyond creativity, anandamide has a host of well-studied benefits. Many of these require more evidence and are theoretical, but there are plenty of animal models showing the efficacy of this important neurotransmitter.

Working Memory – This is one of the key components of creativity. As mentioned above, anandamide helps gather many pieces of information in order to create new ideas. There are few studies on healthy adults, but one model showed that rats afflicted with working memory deficits improved this cognitive measure with only anandamide.

From this evidence, it is clear anandamide interacts with working memory and various mechanisms. Scientific research proves the change, but the magnitude remains unknown for healthy adults.

Neurogenesis – According to Dr. Gary Wenk, anandamide can be a powerful chemical associated with neurogenesis especially in older people. As a researcher of neuroscience, he has insights into the effects of anandamide and the interactions with the brain. Until recently, scientists believed that neurogenesis (the growing of new brain cells) only happened in youth and adolescents. Today, we know that neurogenesis continues into adulthood, and effectively managing it reduces the risk of neurodegenerative issues like memory loss and dementia.

Anti-Depressive – Beyond the cognitive benefits, there are several mood and quality of life enhancements with anandamide as well. Studies of rat brain models suggest anandamide has effective mood boosting properties in the brain, which can help those with a poor mood.

Naturally, reducing depressive feelings is positive for quality of life, but it can also be important for cognition as well. It’s nearly impossible to maintain a high cognitive output when in a poor mental state. In contrast, an uplifted and positive mood can yield higher mental performance.

Hacking Anandamide

Anandamide, associated with numerous benefits, notably enhances creativity and cognitive processing in the brain. The problem with anandamide is that it can’t be effectively replicated with a supplement due to its endogenous nature in the brain. There aren’t any anandamide supplements on the market (yet) and even if there were, the benefits would be non-existent.

Chocolate – Scientists don’t really know what component of chocolate causes anandamide increases, but it is thought to be the most reliable source of this chemical. Some speculation suggests the reason we crave chocolate is for the anandamide, which is a mood-boosting and pain reducing compound. For those avoiding sugar, cocoa powder works just fine. One of the 300+ chemical compounds in cocoa powder increases anandamide, enhancing its levels.

Truffles – If you can afford to eat truffles often, a new study suggests truffles create the precursors to anandamide so we can make them ourselves. Because the fungus creates enough of this precursor, we don’t need to eat (and spend) much.

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