Have you ever heard of a “runners high”? Those who have experienced it say it not only increases positive mood and feelings of endurance but it also reduces anxiety and pain. You may have personally experienced it. What you might not know is that the endocannabinoid system is involved in all those “natural highs” that provide a feeling of euphoria, including singing, dancing, reading, cycling, and running.
The aim of a study conducted in 2018 was to investigate whether activities other than running can increase circulating endocannabinoids (eCBs), which are the lipid signaling molecules involved in reward, appetite, mood, memory, and neuroprotection.
Nine healthy post-menopausal female volunteers, with an average age of 61 years old, were recruited from local choirs. Hemodynamics, mood, hunger, and eCBs were measured 30 minutes prior and 30 minutes after subjects engaged in singing, dancing, reading, or cycling in a fasted state. Here’s the part where it gets interesting… Singing, especially in a group, increased plasma levels of anandamide (AEA) by 42%, palmitoylethanolamide (PEA) by 53%, and oleoyl ethanolamide (OEA) by 34% and improved positive mood and emotions without affecting hunger scores. Dancing did not have as dramatic an impact overall but it did decrease negative mood without affecting hunger scores.
Just to clarify, anandamide (AEA) is a messenger molecule that plays a role in pain, depression, appetite, memory, and fertility. Oleoylethanolamine (OEA), usually found in the intestines, is responsible for the feeling of satisfaction after a meal. Palmitoylethanolamine (PEA) is a fatty acid amide molecule that has been shown to have neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-pain, and anti-convulsant properties. All three are endogenous members of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The study showed that all activities increased plasma eCB levels. So go run, sing with your friends, ride a bike, read a good book, or dance it out! Combining cannabis with your favorite exercise or pastime can give your body a little jump start, enhance the experience, improve mood, and get those eCBs circulating.
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