Endorphins: Stress Relieving Hormones
Have you ever given thought to what process in the body is responsible for giving us a sense of pleasure after a fun activity or feeling good after a painful experience?
Endorphins are the natural chemicals responsible for the same.
Most of us might not know what Endorphins are and How do they benefit our health. This article aims to brief you about Endorphins and Tips to escalate their levels.
Endorphins and their significance in your body
Endorphins are natural chemicals (neuropeptides) released by pituitary glands in the brain to deal with pain or stress. They are often called "feel-good" chemicals because they act as natural analgesics, relieve pain, and boost happiness.
"Endorphin rush" occurs during strenuous workouts, laughing, or any fun activity, causing a wave of pleasure that is distributed all across the body. That is why exercise is perceived as good stress-releasing activity and also brightens up the mood. Endorphins are reported to play the same role as morphine serves.1
Endorphins are of 3 types: α, β, and γ. Out of which β-Endorphins are responsible for relieving stress.
Low Endorphin levels in your body
With insufficient levels of Endorphins, an individual is predisposed to certain comorbidities including:
- Depression and anxiety2
- Fibromyalgia3 ( A health condition, followed by long term body aches, muscle stiffness, mood swings, and disturbed sleeping patterns)
- Chronic headache4
Activities that will level up your Endorphins
Here is the list of activities that can level up Endorphins levels:
Exercise is a 'miracle' or 'wonder drug' that is a treatment option for a variety of physical and mental conditions and Endorphins act as an endogenous opioid system that controls it.
Endorphin levels have been reported to be elevated by any sort of physical training including running, walking, cycling, swimming, and sports. 5
Physical exercises also induce enthusiasm in patients suffering from depression and improve sleep quality index simultaneously.6
The release of Endorphins while exercising is also reported to clinically improve brain disorders including Parkinson's disease.7
- Yoga/ meditation
Yoga and meditation are relaxation techniques that focus on body positioning and breathing to increase strength, and balance, reduce pain, and improve quality of life.
It is evident from current studies that there exists a neuro-physiological correlation between yoga, pain, and Endorphins. Endorphins released during yoga alter pain perception changes mood and balances stress hormones (ACTH, cortisol, catecholamines, and growth hormone).8
One study also reports that practicing yoga in routine is the most effective therapeutic tool to treat pain during menstruation without depending on pain killers. The movements performed during yoga can relax the internal organs of the abdomen, including the reproductive organs.9
Level up your Endorphins with Yoga and Meditation videos on DrTrust360 and stay active throughout the day.
- Laugh therapy
Laughter therapy is a medically approved cognitive-behavioral therapy that can establish healthy physical, psychological, and social relationships and ultimately improve the quality of life. It strengthens our immune system, improves blood circulation, and prevents numerous health conditions such as hypertension, breathing problems, heart problems, muscle stiffness, and neural disorders.
Endorphins released during laughter therapy can help relieve discomfort or depressed mood.10
- Body massage and Aromatherapy
Body massage is a therapy that effectively relieves pain, and stress simultaneously increases microcirculation in the body, and promotes wellbeing. Endorphin levels are reported to increase during body massage.
Try massage therapy with Dr Physio wide range of body and facial massagers and boost your Endorphins.
The combination of body massage with aromatherapy is also one of the proven ways to activate the release of Endorphins, cause relaxation, and reduce pain, particularly at the time of labor pain.11,12
In another study, the combination of aromatherapy and massage treatment can lower the elevated anxiety level in a premenopausal woman.13
Get Aromatherapy at home with Dr Trust HomeSpa Luxury Aroma Diffuser and your favorite essential oil.
- Eating Dark chocolates
Dark Chocolate is proven to stimulate the release of Endorphins and improve neuro–cardiovascular connectivity.
The Cocoa polyphenol extracts in dark chocolates are reported to induce stimulant, relaxant, euphoriant, tonic, and antidepressant effects that make us feel better at times of stress. 14
- Acupuncture therapy
Acupuncture is the systematic treatment based on the principle of applying small needles or pressure to specific points of the body for the treatment of nausea, pain, allergies, hot flashes, breathing issues, mood disorders, and dyspepsia.
Acupuncture therapy is also effective in relieving primary depression, post-stroke depression, pain-related depression, and postpartum depression .16
In a study reported in neuroscience letters, Electro acupuncture of 2 Hz accelerates the release of Enkephalin, Endorphin, and Endomorphin, while that of 100 Hz increases the release of Dynorphin. Whereas, the combination of the two frequencies activates the release of all four pain killers, resulting in a maximal therapeutic effect.17
Apart from the above activities, eating your favorite spicy food, visiting a favorite spot, listening to music, dancing, volunteering to help a needy, enjoying a sunrise or a sunset, cuddling your loved ones, gardening, and connecting to nature can significantly pump-up Endorphin levels.
Also, Try DR Trust Positiva Capsules for anti-Stress and anxiety that contains St. John's wart as the primary ingredient.
St. John's wart or Hypericum perforatum is a natural herb native to Europe and very effective for dealing with specific conditions of depression, and other related disorders. It is proven to elevate and regulate mood instantly. Do consult your health care provider if you are under some other medication.
Do Endorphins cause Exercise Addiction?
During moderate-to-intense exercise, Endorphins are released into the brain and bloodstream which generates a sense of satisfaction throughout the body. People who are addicted to exercise or workouts want to experience this psychological 'high' sensation, regardless of the pain, they have to suffer. The elevated levels of Endorphins suppress the sensation of pain to get acquainted with the resulting pleasure.
According to a study, people who exercise more than 60% of their maximal oxygen uptake for at least 3 minutes, only become addicted. 18
Moreover, the exact calculation of Endorphin levels is complicated as some are released into the bloodstream, while others to the central nervous system. On that account, elevated Endorphin levels cannot be specifically linked to exercise addiction.
In another study, exercise addiction and motivation for exercise are strongly associated with personality traits.18,19
Above all, exercise is an important activity to be included in daily routine but maintaining a balanced state between physical activity and healthy living is equally important.
Studies are still in the process to identify the exact relationship between endorphins and their addictive behavior that may further clarify the neurobiological foundations of Endorphins addictions.
- Bali, A., Singh, N., & Jaggi, A. S. (2014). Neuropeptides as therapeutic targets to combat stress-associated behavioral and neuroendocrinological effects. CNS & neurological disorders drug targets, 13(2), 347–368. https://doi.org/10.2174/1871527313666140314163920
- Merenlender-Wagner, A., Dikshtein, Y., & Yadid, G. (2009). The beta-endorphin role in stress-related psychiatric disorders. Current drug targets, 10(11), 1096–1108. https://doi.org/10.2174/138945009789735147
- Bidari, A., Ghavidel-Parsa, B., Rajabi, S., Sanaei, O., & Toutounchi, M. (2016). The acute effect of maximal exercise on plasma beta-endorphin levels in fibromyalgia patients. The Korean journal of pain, 29(4), 249–254.https://doi.org/10.3344/kjp.2016.29.4.249
- Sharma, N. et al. (2016) .Anxiety and Depression in Chronic Headache Patients:Major Concern for Community Mental Health. Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing,Vol 7, ISS 1, 45-47.
- Harber, V.J., Sutton, J.R. Endorphins and Exercise. Sports Medicine1, 154–171 (1984).
- Steinberg, H., & Sykes, E. A. (1985). Introduction to symposium on endorphins and behavioural processes: Review of literature on endorphins and exercise. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 23(5), 857–862.
- Corrêa, C. C., Oliveira, F. K., Pizzamiglio, D. S., Ortolan, E., & Weber, S. (2017). Sleep quality in medical students: a comparison across the various phases of the medical course. Jornal brasileiro de pneumologia : publicacao oficial da Sociedade Brasileira de Pneumologia e Tisilogia, 43(4), 285–289.https://doi.org/10.1590/S1806-37562016000000178
- Qualls , C and Appenzeller , O.(2020).Parkinson’s Disease and Exercise; Effects of Endorphins. EC Neurology 12.11.
- Suri, M., Sharma, R., & Saini, N. (2017). Neuro-physiological correlation between yoga, pain and endorphins. International Journal of Adapted Physical Education and Yoga.
- Carolin, B. T., Maesari, I., & Hisni, D. (2022). Yoga Exercise on Reduction of Menstrual Pain among Adolescent Girls. Nursing and Health Sciences Journal (NHSJ), 2(2), 29-33. https://doi.org/10.53713/nhs.v2i2.86
- Yim J. (2016). Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter in Mental Health: A Theoretical Review. The Tohoku journal of experimental medicine, 239(3), 243–249. https://doi.org/10.1620/tjem.239.243
- Lighaei, S., & Hosseini, S. (2019). Comparing Effects of Massage and Aromatherapy with Lavender and Almond Oil on Labor Time and Pain and Serum Level of Beta-Endorphin in Primiparous Women. JOURNAL OF ANIMAL PHYSIOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT (QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES), 12(1 (44)), 81-89. https://www.sid.ir/en/journal/ViewPaper.aspx?id=684253
- Widyastari, D.A. and Isarabhakdi, P., 2016, “Socio-economic and Demographic Characteristics of Early Childbearers in Indonesia”, ASIAN Academic Society International Conference, Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, pp. 245-253.
- Taavoni, S., Darsareh, F., Joolaee, S., & Haghani, H. (2013). The effect of aromatherapy massage on the psychological symptoms of postmenopausal Iranian women. Complementary therapies in medicine, 21(3), 158–163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2013.03.007
- Magrone, T., Russo, M. A., & Jirillo, E. (2017). Cocoa and Dark Chocolate Polyphenols: From Biology to Clinical Applications. Frontiers in immunology, 8, 677.https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2017.00677
- Javelot, H., Messaoudi, M., Jacquelin, C., & Violle, N. (2009).Antidepressant-Like Properties Of Cocoa's Polyphenols. Supplement to AgroFood industry hi-tech .vol 20
- Yang, N. N., Lin, L. L., Li, Y. J., Li, H. P., Cao, Y., Tan, C. X., ... & Liu, C. Z. (2022). Potential Mechanisms and Clinical Effectiveness of Acupuncture in Depression. Current Neuropharmacology, 20(4), 738-750.
- Han, J. Acupuncture and endorphins.(2004). Neuroscience Letters, Volume 361, Issues 1–3, 6 May, Pages 258-261
- Petit, A., & Lejoyeux, M. (2013). La dépendance à l'exercice physique [Exercise addiction]. Revue medicale de Liege, 68(5-6), 331–339.
- Leuenberger, A. (2006). Endorphins, exercise, and addictions: a review of exercise dependence. The Premier Journal for Undergraduate Publications in the Neurosciences, 3, 1-9.