Exercise Increases Cannabis-Like Substance in Body, According to Study

August 23, 2022

The body creates endocannabinoids, which are similar to cannabis and are used to manage pain and inflammation. According to a recent study published in the journal Gut Microbes, exercise can significantly increase the production of these endocannabinoids and may be an effective strategy to lessen discomfort and reduce the chance of developing chronic diseases.

About the Study

About half of the 78 arthritis patients studied by researchers participated in daily muscle-strengthening exercises, while the other half did not. The training group had increased endocannabinoid levels and more anti-inflammatory compounds after 6 weeks, which helped to reduce pain response and improve recovery.

Strength training resulted in positive modifications in the gut bacteria as well, specifically in the short-chain fatty acid composition. The researchers stated that this decrease in inflammation could have immediate impacts like better pain control. These acids are thought to be essential for gastrointestinal health. Additionally, there might be longer-term advantages, such as a reduced risk of developing various inflammatory diseases like cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.

Benefits of the Endocannabinoid System

According to Jordan Tishler, MD, a specialist in internal medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston who specializes in endocannabinoid medicine, being able to maximize how the body's endocannabinoid system functions can be essential for a number of advantages.

The endocannabinoid system is not as simple to use as other systems, such as your respiratory or cardiovascular systems. Instead, according to Dr. Tishler, its main goal is to control and enhance the other systems so that they can cooperate effectively.

"If you think of your body as similar to a car, you have thousands of functions happening simultaneously, from fuel monitoring to tire pressure assessment to steering capability," he notes. "The endocannabinoid system is like the computer in a car, making sure all those components work seamlessly with one another. It improves the connections."

He continues by saying that your organs and bone marrow are just two examples of the body parts that have receptors in this system. As a result, endocannabinoids are involved in a variety of processes, including pain regulation, reproductive health, and pain response.

"Being able to improve your endocannabinoid system function doesn't just provide one or two benefits," Dr. Tishler says. "It causes a cascade of advantageous responses in every other system."

How Exercise Provides a Natural Boost

Using CBD products, according to Dr. Tishler, is one technique to stimulate the endocannabinoid system. Despite the fact that there are many options available, bear in mind that not everyone will respond in the same manner. Finding a solution that works for a person might be a trial-and-error process. In contrast, exercise can organically strengthen the system. A recent exercise study and earlier studies tend to imply that exercising can be more of a booster that works for everyone.

For instance, a study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology examined the results of 45 minutes of both jogging and walking on a treadmill. When participants' opioid receptors were inhibited so they could not sense an elevation in endorphins, the hormones linked to higher mood, researchers still found that only running increased feelings of wellbeing and decreased anxiety levels.

"We found, instead, that it was endocannabinoids that were responsible for this [elevated mood]," says that study's lead author, Johannes Fuss, MD, in the Human Behavior Laboratory at University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany. "Another interesting note was on exercise duration. We settled on 45 minutes because earlier studies have shown you need about that long for a proper endocannabinoid release."

According to Dr. Fuss, this is the infamous "runner's high." But any moderate-to-vigorous action that causes an endocannabinoid response can cause that feeling of elation. Along the way, you may not only feel better overall but also respond to pain and inflammation more effectively.

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