Blog Posts

Endorphins: Unlocking Well-Being

(Motivation, Addiction, Anxiety, Childbirth, Depression, Immune System, Inflammation, Self-Esteem, Stress, Weight Loss, Well-Being, LDN)

Acting in the body as a key neurotransmitter, endorphins are not entirely understood.

Comprising of sizeable peptide groups, endorphins are products of the pituitary gland and central nervous system.

Endorphins lead the role of managing our sense of well-being.

With their primary action on our opiate receptors, endorphins increase pleasure, while lowering pain.

While we hear the word “runner’s high”, our bodies also create endorphins when we eat, exercise, or have sex.

Interestingly enough, the word endorphin originates from combining the words “morphine,” an opiate pain reliever“ and endogenous,” as inside the body.

This means endorphins receive their name due to their actions as natural pain relievers.

Finally, in addition to mood and cognition, researchers are analyzing how endorphins might regulate our immune system and inflammatory response after Dr. Bernard Bihari used low dose naltrexone, or LDN therapy to treat HIV and AIDS patients in the 1980s.

Top 6 Possible Endorphin Deficiency Symptoms:

  • Addiction and Impulsiveness (S)
  • Anxiety (S)
  • Depression (S)
  • Immune System and Inflammation Issues (S)
  • Insomnia (S)
  • Physical Pain (S)

 

Purpose of Endorphins:

While we accept endorphins primarily to increase pleasure and reduce pain, the entirety of all endorphin roles is still unknown.

As we are more likely to act when it increases pleasant feelings and sensations, we are naturally conditioned to move towards pleasure, while avoiding pain.

Naturally, developing from this evolutionary motivation, this increases our survival.

Expanding this theory into addiction science, we believe endorphins act in our natural reward circuits in affecting common activities such as drinking, eating, exercise, and sex.

We also see endorphin activity rising during pregnancy.

In maximizing pleasure and minimizing discomfort, endorphins work to keep us functional during times of stress or injury.

We finally understand, as social creatures, humans thrive amongst and within the collective.

Endorphins reinforce our social attachments.

As this group dynamic decreases in importance to the individual, we clearly see through human history those sticking together in groups increasing their reproduction and survival rates.

How do Endorphins Differ from Dopamine?

It is common to confuse endorphins with dopamine, another primary neurotransmitter.

Like endorphins, dopamine also plays a heavy role in the brain’s reward system.

With an array of benefits including improvement in mood, movement, prolactin, and sympathetic nervous system, low or excessive dopamine activity in one or more parts of the brain can be detrimental, while repairing this can be profoundly life-changing.

Dopamine comes from the amino acid tyrosine through our adrenal gland medulla, hypothalamus, and substantia nigra.

Endorphins are polypeptides coming from our central nervous system and pituitary gland.

Endorphins primarily assist in dealing with stress and pain reduction.

While we notice experiencing pleasure when increasing endorphins, this is due to increased dopamine release because of elevating endorphin activity in the body.

Top 6 Primary Endorphin Benefits:

1. Anxiety (S)

2. Childbirth (S)

3. Depression (S)

4. Immune System and Inflammation (S)

5. Self-Esteem (S)

6. Weight Loss (S)

Top 9 Ways to Naturally Increase Endorphin Activity:

1) Chocolate (Cacao, Cocoa) (S)

 

2) Orgasms (S)

 

3) Exercise Moderate Paced (20 minutes) (S)

 

4) Alcohol (In Moderation Only) (S)

 

5) Cold Shower (Just 2 minutes) (S)

 

6) Deep Rhythmic Breathing (S)

 

7) Doing for Others (S)

 

8) Laughter and Social Gatherings (S)

 

9) Sunlight and Outdoors (S)

 

Others:

Bananas, avocados, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, folate vitamin B9, vitamin B12, eggs, DHA, EPA, omega-3’s, krill oil, fish oil, algae oil, cod liver oil, beetroot, betaine, SAMe, TMG, touch, acupressure, acupuncture, spices.

Your Friend in Health

Mark Stein