A very good example how vital the endocannabinoid system is in pain sensation and how it is tied to our emotions comes from an interesting case-report. A 71-year-old woman that does not feel pain or fear, her stress and depression tests scored zero but she has been forgetful since ever. A former teacher has experienced broken limbs, cuts and burns, childbirth and numerous surgical operations with little or no need for pain. When she was 8, she broke her arm and didn’t tell anyone for days. That she is always ironing herself, and that her multiple cuts but feels no pain and the wounds heal swiftly. When she had a car accident, she calmly climbed out of her wrecked car and went to comfort the shaking young driver who witnessed the car crash. She only noticed her bruises later. For a few years she had problems with her hip, but her doctor did not take it seriously because she was not in pain. When she finally got x-rayed it showed a massive deterioration of the joint and had to have her hip replaced.
While she was in hospital, doctors noticed that her thumbs were deformed by osteoarthritis. They immediately booked her in for a double hand operation, a procedure described as “excruciating” by one surgeon, but she felt almost no pain after the operation. This was so unusual to doctors that they recommended gene testing. They found two mutations, both effecting the enzyme FAAH, the one that degraded our most abundant endocannabinoid called anandamide. This causes an elevation of anandamide, and indeed this woman has twice as much anandamide as the general population. Explaining the analgesia, happiness, no stress and forgetfulness. Wouldn’t we all want these mutations now and then?
This blog post is an excerpt from the book Hanf Medizin. It is published with permission of the author dr. Tanja Bagar.
Original discovery was published in a science article here.