Oleamide is fatty acid amide found in the nervous system of mammals, with research indicating it can play a role in sleep induction. The process in which this occurs seems to involve the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and in particular the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptor. To better understand oleamide, we looked at a research review summarizing the evidence to date.
Pre-clinical studies have shown that oleamide is found in the cerebrospinal fluid during periods of sleep deprivation and that it has the ability to help encourage sleep. Since oleamide is also found within human blood plasma, the possibility exists that the same effects might occur in humans.
To explore this possibility, an understanding of how oleamide uptake occurs within the central nervous system is necessary. Researchers used an agent known to block the CB1 receptor that also prevents other cannabinoid actions such as analgesia and memory disruption.
The use of this receptor blocker eliminated the sleep-inducing and hypnotic effects of oleamide. The amide was still present at levels that helped induce sleep under previous observation but these data indicates that oleamide is, in part, mediated through ECS pathways.
The presence of oleamide in human blood plasma demonstrates the potential for the compound to be further studied and analyzed for potential sleep inducing and calming benefits. Research into this human potential is lacking but the pre-clinical study described here shows another intriguing function and purpose of the ECS found within mammals. However, the review also pointed out that oleamide works with other systems in the brain, similar to how cannabidiol (CBD) has a widespread effect, not limited to the ECS.
As we gain a better understanding of the ECS and how different compounds and substances, such as oleamide, interact with it, we stand to unlock further insight into this fascinating system found within the human body.
Sleep deprivation affects so many people, especially during this time of economic instability and other stressors associated with the pandemic. A natural way to induce sleep is greatly needed and further research will allow us to better understand safer ways to get those Zs.
Image Credit: Enrique Meseguer
- Mendelson WB & Basile AS. The hypnotic actions of the fatty acid amide, oleamide. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2001 Nov;25(5 Suppl):S36-9.