There has been a spate of recent articles on exercise and cannabis. Part of the runner’s high is attributable to endocannabinoid release. In Colorado, cannabis users are more physically active, on average. And in a recent review, Chinese scientists at Shenzhen University describe how the endocannabinoid system may mediate the numerous cognitive effects of exercise.
It’s increasingly recognized that the runner’s high, which used to be attributed to endorphins, is conferred partly by endocannabinoids in the brain. In response to the stress of exercise, the brain produces anandamide, “the bliss chemical” which provides that feeling of elation along with pain reduction and health benefits. A collaboration between researchers in Wisconsin and at Iowa State University has sought to understand this phenomenon in women suffering from depression.
The endocannabinoid system forms part of what makes us feel pleasure — from the runner’s high, eating good food, and, according to new research, singing. Saoirse O’Sullivan’s group at University of Nottingham (UK) examined the effects of singing and dancing on endocannabinoid levels. Singing (in a group of people who like to sing) increased fatty acid ethanolamide concentrations by 30-50% in the blood — more than is typically associated with exercise.
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