Think You Can Only Get High on Mary Jane? The same chemical's in Your Brain, Too

Did you know when you're in love it's like smoking marijuana?

Well, maybe not exactly.  But the highs are similar, according to a new report. says that the hormone oxytocin, which has been associated with interpersonal bonding, may enhance the pleasure of social interactions by stimulating production of marijuana-like neurotransmitters in the brain, according to a University of California, Irvine study.

The research provides the first link between oxytocin – dubbed the “love hormone” – and anandamide, which has been called the “bliss molecule” for its role in activating cannabinoid receptors in brain cells to heighten motivation and happiness. 

Not to get too technical but the researchers discovered that social contact increased production of anandamide ( messenger molecule which plays a role in pain, depression, appetite, memory, and fertility) in  the nucleus of the brain, which triggered cannabinoid receptors there to reinforce the pleasure of socialization. Just as you suspect, cannabinoid receptors are what give us the marijuana high feeling.

When cannabinoid receptors were blocked, this reinforcement disappeared.

Researchers found that animals treated with a drug that stops anandamide destruction behaved as though they enjoyed spending time with their cage mates more than animals treated with a placebo.

Oxytocin has also been called the hug hormone, cuddle chemical and moral molecule due to its effects on behavior, including its role in love and female reproductive functions, according to

Scientists are looking into the blocking of this brain element as a treatment for depression and possibly even autism.  


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