The Endocannabinoid System and the “Runner’s High”

The Endocannabinoid System and the “Runner’s High”

Posted by Ahya Wellness Team on 17th Jul 2023

The ECS is made up of endocannabinoids (molecules produced in our bodies), cannabinoid receptors housed in the central nervous system and other tissues throughout the body, and the enzymes responsible for processing endocannabinoids (Lu HC, Mackie K 2016). Exercise and hemp products containing CBD stimulate the regulatory properties of the ECS.

In a 2016 paper titled An introduction to the endogenous cannabinoid system, Lu and Mackie describe the ECS as a “neuromodulatory system that plays important roles in central nervous system (CNS) development, synaptic plasticity, and the response to endogenous and environmental insults.” But what does this have to do with the “Runner’s High?”

Research with animal models indicates that increased endocannabinoids generated during strenuous activity and the resulting interaction with cannabinoid receptors may contribute to euphoric feelings. This “runner’s high”, well-known and reported after vigorous exercise, has historically been attributed to exercise-induced endorphins. Research now suggests that the sedating and pain-relieving aspects of this euphoria are produced by endocannabinoids and the ECS (Fuss J, Steinle J, Bindila L, Auer MK, Kirchherr H, Lutz B, Gass P. 2015).

The ECS and Peak Muscle Performance

Phytocannabinoids, including those found in cannabidiol (CBD) performance products, improve the effectiveness of endocannabinoid action on the ECS during rest and recovery after training for peak muscle performance. Use a CBD performance product daily for optimum influence on the Endocannabinoid system as it responds to your body’s needs.

The ECS targets relief to inflamed muscles and other bodily systems in response to pain, inflammation, and homeostasis signals. Research has shown that the ECS provides measurable results in regulating the body’s inflammatory responses, supporting learning, memory, and emotional processing in the brain, beneficial sleep, modulating the body’s temperature control system, influencing pain control, and aiding in immune responses.

Endorphins, Runners High, or CBD?

Science proposes several theories on why we feel better after consistent movement. Discussing the benefits of exercise, a 2004 study summarizes these theories, including the “endorphin theory”, as well as several more:

  • a hypothesis focused on body temperature, suggesting that mood is improved because of relaxation and reduced muscle tension after exercise - enhance that reduced muscle tension with CBD!
  • a proposal that exercise increases the availability of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, critical brain neurotransmitters that influence mood - CBD supports the release and distribution of these neurotransmitters and supports mood with anti-anxiety effects.
  • a theory called the “distraction hypothesis” which suggests that physical activity distracts us from worries and depressing thoughts so much so that there is measurable mood improvement - CBD can smooth some of the edges off of tension in the mind.
  • a concept that exercise leads to an enhancement of a sense that we are capable of completing a task and that we understand the steps needed to do so - CBD improves focus and attention, increasing the chances of completing the task!

Science has not settled on which one is correct but theories all agree, that exercise improves mood. (Craft LL, Perna FM). And we propose that CBD supports our efforts to get moving, before, during, and after exercise, influences the release of these mood boosting chemicals through the ECS, addresses inflammation and muscle recovery, enhances sleep to contribute to biological system restoration, and is an important element of any movement practice.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.