Cannabinoids and Runner’s High—One and the Same?
The trial, published in the Psychoneuroendocrinology journal in February, suggests that endocannabinoids — the body’s own cannabinoid receptors — are the cause of the famous “runner’s high” and not the usual suspects (endorphins).
Endocannabinoids (ECS) are substances similar to cannabinoids, which are found in cannabis, but originate from human cells and organs; doing aerobic exercises, for instance, causes a spike in their production.
The “culprit” behind ECS production is probably evolution itself — as prehistoric people hunted, ECS gave them much-needed pain relief, relaxation, and euphoria. This is why hemp-, and marijuana-derived cannabinoids, are used to fight anxiety disorders and successfully at that.
It took 63 experienced runners and the work of three departments in the University of Hamburg-Eppendorf and the University of Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz to prove that the runner’s high was actually an “endocannabinoid-high.”
Until now, endorphins, also known as hormones of happiness, got all the credit, undeservingly. The proof came when half of the participants took a drug that blocked these molecules from interacting with the brain and still got “high on running.”
These confirmed the findings of precedent animal experiments conducted in 2012 and 2015. All these showed that ECS, unlike endorphins, can easily reach the brain due to their fitting molecular structure.
Moreover, their effects on mice, ferrets, and dogs are similar to that of cannabinoids — hence why cannabis products are used to treat different conditions in animals, even depression.
And according to scientists, a 45-minute run is enough to spike ECS in the bloodstream and give you that mellowy, rewarding feeling all of us know and love!