Scientists have discovered why runner’s high can cause weed-like effects and it is not endorphins. Until now, researchers used to believe that intense physical exercise leads to an elevated production of endorphins, but a recent experiment suggests our bodies produce endocannabinoids, a substance which is very similar to cannabis.
Practicing sports has countless benefits for our body, for our health system and for our minds, but scientists think there could be more to it. A recent experiment suggests intense physical activity can increase the production of endorphins and endocannabinoids in the body and, thus, create a happy sensation in our bodies.
Investigators looked at a group of lab rats because they thought there might be something else pushing them to run so much on the treadmill. Rats appear to be much more peaceful at the end of the physical exercises; therefore, scientists started to suspect there could be a link between the two.
To determine how eager lab rats were for physical exercises, scientists have removed the tread mill from the mice’s cage and observed their behavior over a given period of time. Scientists have, thus, noticed that the rats became much more anxious and sensitive because of the lack of physical exercise.
Yet, there was still one aspect that remained unsolved: investigators could not tell whether rats’ well-being is determined by endorphins or endocannabinoids. Consequently, they have used special scientific means to separate the two substances and see what reactions they would trigger in the rats’ bodies.
During the first experiment, researchers isolated endocannabinoids, leaving rats with the sole consolation of endorphins. Much to scientists’ surprise, the released endorphins did not trigger special reactions form the lab mice. They were more peaceful due to the physical exercises they have practiced, but not as serene as they normally were.
Scientists went on to the next stage during which they isolated endorphins to determine the effects of endocannabinoids. Results have revealed that the serenity that mice usually experience after they frantically run on the treadmill is the result of endocannabinoids and not endorphins as scientists wrongfully believed.
Although it is, yet, too early to make such suppositions, scientists think the same effects are noticeable in sport practitioners. The sense of relief that people get after intense running could be caused by the release of endocannabinoids in the body, scientists have concluded.
The only observation that can be brought against the study is that humans are not mice; therefore, scientists should have to re-create the experiment on human participants in order to better understand the process that the body goes through during physical exercises.
Researchers have, nevertheless, agreed that the new study is the only one that makes the difference between endorphins and endocannabinoids and their effects on humans’ psyche.
The findings of the new study were published in the prestigious journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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