You may not think there is a natural substance in the body that provides a natural euphoric effect. When stressed or in pain, many of us decide to turn to the bottle or a pack of cigarettes for what we think is a natural high. However, there are healthier alternatives, which are also free!
What are endorphins?
Once released, endorphins actually interact with opiate receptors in the brain to reduce our perception of pain, and act similarly to drugs such as morphine and codeine – and there’s no addiction involved. The benefits associated with increasing the release of natural endorphins in the body are numerous.
What are the effects of endorphin secretion?
- Slowing down of the aging process
- Lower blood pressure
- Enhancement of immune response
- Reduction of pain
- Lower stress and anxiety levels
- Curbing of appetite, which reduces symptoms associated with eating disorders
- Regulation of the production of sex hormones
- Proven to trigger natural killer cells, which support the immune system against diseases and kill cancer cells.
Yes, the release of natural endorphins does all this. Isn’t the human body amazing? The effects can also last for 12 hours.
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What can you do to stimulate endorphin secretion?
Endorphins are triggered by pain and exertion. With high endorphin levels, we feel less pain and fewer negative effects of stress. The following acts secrete the natural high response:
Exercise. Yes, you probably could have guessed this one on your own. Many people who suffer from anxiety, depression or general stress are told to work out in order to increase these natural endorphins. Reason being that research has shown that prolonged exercise produces many endorphins. Ever heard of what is called a “runner’s high”? Runners experience a sense of euphoria when running for an extended period of time. When workout intensity is moderate to high, you will release endorphins. Sounds like an oxymoron doesn’t it (workout = good feeling)? Workouts that are most likely to bring on the release of endorphins are running, aerobics or cycling.
Eating certain foods. Capsaicin (the active chemical in chili peppers) also stimulates endorphin release. Topical capsaicin, which can be found in health food stores, has been used to treat some types of chronic pain. So next time you go to the grocery store, pick up some hot peppers, horseradish or wasabi (and don’t forget to accompany these items with a gallon of milk!). Get this ladies; chocolate even releases some endorphins – surprise, surprise. It’s no wonder chocolate provides us with those comforting feelings and is what many women crave in times of stress.
Acupuncture. OK, so the thought of having needles punctured throughout your body may freak you out a bit. However, scientists discovered that inserting acupuncture needles at specific body points releases endorphins. Acupuncture reportedly benefits people who suffer from chronic headaches, particularly migraines.
Sex. If you’re not having enough, have some more! Again, like consuming chocolate, there’s no surprise here that this act produces a natural high.
Massage therapy. Here’s your excuse to at least splurge for one day at the spa. A licensed massage therapist specializes in manipulating the muscle and connective tissue to enhance the function of those tissues in order to promote well-being and relaxation. Massage has also been known to lower the effects associated with arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and muscle disorders.
Art therapy. You may not be an artist, and guess what, you don’t have to be. Brainwave testing shows that when you are creating or even looking at art, one naturally taps into the deep unconscious that is usually only tapped into during a deep sleep. By using imagery instead of words, you are able to access what is going on inside the body and mind, which leads to being able to resolve any conflicts between thoughts and feelings.
Excitement. Have you wanted to see that scary movie, go on that roller-coaster, go skydiving or even bungee jump? The body’s fight or flight mechanism kicks in during these acts, so anything that gives us that adrenaline rush, particularly extreme sports, will give us that natural high.
Meditation. This self-directed practice of calming the body and the mind can be a wonderful stress, pain and anxiety reducer. Additionally, it can lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
Life is what you make of it. If you provide yourself with a healthy, active and positive lifestyle (one that you will truly enjoy), more endorphins will be released within your body and you will be much happier.