I am not speaking of new cartoon superheroes here, but endorphins are super in regards to being a natural painkiller and stress killer. I am going to discuss the endorphin rush in this article and how it helps with pain and stress.
What are endorphins?
Endorphins function to transmit electrical signals to the nervous system. There are at least 20 types of endorphins demonstrated in humans, but I am not getting into an explanation of all of them.
In the pituitary gland or “master” gland as it is often called, hormones secret from the front and back, and those hormones control several other hormone glands in the human body. Thus the title master gland. The hormones carry signals or messages through the body in the bloodstream.
In the human body, distributed through the nervous system you will find endorphins. They are just waiting to be released and exhibit their mighty power.
So what are the two most common negative triggers for endorphin release and that endorphin rush?
And guess what happens when they are released-
They reduce our perception of pain and cause an effect similar to that of opiate drugs such as morphine and codeine. But here is the excellent part, endorphin activation does not lead to addiction or dependence. The endorphins are interacting with the brain's opiate receptors, just as an opiate drug would, but without the side effects!
Here are the benefits of endorphin release:
- Decreased feeling of pain
- Feelings of euphoria
- Appetite modulation
- Release of sex hormones
- Immune response enhancement
High endorphin levels equal less pain felt and also fewer adverse effects of stress.
Endorphin release through exercise …
Ever heard of “runners high”? It is a direct result of endorphin release due to prolonged exercise. It is a fact that the body does produce endorphins during prolonged or continuous physical activity.
The release of endorphins is not the same for everyone. It will vary among individuals. The production levels of endorphins may be different even though two people are experiencing the same level of pain or are exercising at the same level.
Some foods can enhance the secretion of endorphins, and my favorite is first on the list!
- Chocolate – Ever had that feeling of comfort when eating chocolate? Craved it during a time of stress?
- Chili peppers – the spicier the better
Here's an abbreviated list of activities that may help to increase your endorphin levels:
- Regular exercise – does not have to be strenuous – a simple walk will suffice.
- Acupuncture or massage therapy has been shown to stimulate endorphin secretion
- Sex is also a potent trigger for endorphin release
- Meditation can increase the number of endorphins released in your body
- Spend time outside! Being outside enjoying nature in all its glory and soaking up a few rays of sunshine will do wonders for you!
We know that two negative triggers for the release of that endorphin rush are stress and pain. We also know that there are positive stressors that can increase or boost the amount of those feel-good hormones in our bodies. Follow some or all of the activities mentioned above and go out there and feel that endorphin rush today!