People who’ve experienced a euphoric feeling after a workout know that physical exertion may lead to a feeling of delight. Whether you run, swim, lift weights, or participate in another form of exercise you may have experienced a distinctive feeling generally known as “runner’s high”. It’s like jumping into a flood of happy emotions, just as the feeling you may get from consuming a superb cannabis strain.
If you have heard of this, you must also know that endorphins – the chemicals found inside human brains – are said to be the reason behind this feeling of happiness and the effects you feel. That may be right, but research recently conducted has also found some interesting results. The outcomes of the study suggest that the cause of an organic runner’s high could be something entirely different. Instead of being caused by endorphins, this effect may be caused by organic molecules called endocannabinoids, your body’s system that interacts with the THC found in cannabis when you use cannabis products.
The research claims that this phenomenon known as the runner’s high could be interestingly true to its name, with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system being its source. Let’s dig into this research to determine the facts about our body’s endocannabinoid system in this blog post.
Endorphins – Are They Really “Happy Chemicals”?
Endorphins, also commonly known as “the happy chemicals”, became famous in the late 90s when a series of experimental studies determined that they act on similar nerve receptors that respond to opiates like heroin and morphine. However, unlike these drugs, endorphins are said to flood into the human bloodstream when they’re in a state of pleasure such as: when smiling, sitting under the sunshine, meditating, and other pleasant activities.
A strange fact that scientists also noted, is that human body’s are also likely to produce a particular endorphin type, known as beta-endorphin, each time they experience pain – like getting a tattoo, menstruating, or eating spicy curry. This unique discovery from the research led to a conclusion that endorphins play a vital role in managing pain—verified as a fact by the researchers later.
The research didn’t just stop there, scientists also discovered evidence that claims we feel happier each time endorphins release. Endorphins are known to activate similar neural receptors as opiate drugs do, and are essentially the “happy chemicals” inside our bodies—not just causing pain reduction, but also creating physical pleasure for us like in the case of runner’s high.
The claim has been accepted as a fact for the past 30 years until a surprising discovery highlighted that this isn’t just an inaccurate fact but may also be impossible.
Endocannabinoids – Your Body’s Natural THC Is the New “Happy Chemical”
Even though endorphins have had their five minutes of fame, researchers of today have highlighted a surprising fact: endorphin molecules are too big to ever pass from the bloodstream into human brains. This suggests that while endorphins can suppress pain via the peripheral nervous system, there is not a way they can physically trigger the pleasure emotions.
Once it was discovered that endorphins could not be the cause of sensations like the “runner’s high”, scientists needed to find the chemical mechanism that would explain it. A thorough study was conducted back in 2012 and was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology. It states that ferrets aren’t likely to produce additional endocannabinoids as they sprint on shorter distances, however, humans and dogs produce extra endocannabinoids when they sprint for long-distances.
Although the study proved endocannabinoids to be a central source of the runners’ high, the outcomes of this study didn’t fully exclude the role of endorphins in the phenomenon.
Johannes Fuss, the director at the Human Behavior Laboratory of University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, went one step further with the research. He and his team from the Heidelberg University chemically blocked endorphin receptors from a mice sample and set them running on small treadmills and vice-versa.
The outcomes were clear enough. The team found that mice with blocked endorphin receptors experienced post-workout delight alongside a reduction in pain sensations, while those with blocked endocannabinoid receptors ended up cranky and exhausted post workouts.
The Body’s Natural High: Endocannabinoids Over Endorphins
Though the research was promising, there was still one question that remained: mice aren’t human beings. Although mice have a similar nervous system to human’s, a study conducted only with mice cannot prove the same outcomes are true in humans. Considering the evidence and wanting to clarify any doubts in regards to his research, in 2021 Fuss reconducted the experiment using a sample population of human volunteers. One group was given naltrexone to block their endocannabinoid receptors, while the other was given a placebo to block their endorphin receptors.
Again, the outcome suggested that the human natural endocannabinoids system may be a primary source for the experience of a “runner’s high” and could be considered the “happy chemical” inside human bodies, just like it had in mice. More research will be needed to conclusively prove any facts, but there is enough evidence to suggest that the experiment will be repeated with more studies to find a definitive answer with these promising results!
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Now that you have gathered enough knowledge about how the human body produces natural endocannabinoids and how the system works, it’s time to find your favorite cannabis products! Visit us at the best Las Vegas strip dispensary!
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