Evidence Based

5 Benefits of Endorphins + How to Boost Endorphin Levels

Written by Helen Quach, BS (Biochemistry) | Last updated:

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exercise boosts endorphin levels
Endorphins are hormones that can help reduce pain, regulate hormones, and inhibit cancer growth. Along with its health benefits, endorphins also have their drawback. Continue reading below to learn more about these hormones.

What are Endorphins?

Endorphins are a group of hormones that are released by the brain. They can be released during exercise, periods of pain and stress, and other activities [1].

The pituitary gland and the central nervous system produce these hormones [1].

These hormones are also involved in eating, drinking, sex, and maternal behavior [1].

Health Benefits of Endorphins

1) Natural Painkillers

Pain and other stressors cause part of the brain (pituitary gland) to release an endorphin [1].

When acting on the nerve cells to lessen discomfort, the endorphins bind to specialized receptors. This helps reduce the amount of pain felt [1].

Painkillers that are opioids mimic endorphins produced in the body competing with them for available binding spots at the receptor sites [1].

2) Decrease Stress

The brain releases endorphins to help combat stress. They help control the body’s response to stress [2].

3) Inhibit Cancer Cell Growth

Endorphin production prevents the spread of tumor growths in the lungs [3].

This hormone could potentially have broad treatment applications for patients with cancer, chronic stress, as well as impaired immune function [3].

It also helps prevent breast cancer growth and helps cancer patients live longer [4].

Rats with fetal alcohol exposure succumbed more easily to lung tumors until exposed to endorphins [3].

4) Help Regulate Hormones

In fish, endorphins secreted from specific areas of the brain may have a role in inhibiting cells that produce other hormones (luteinizing hormone) [5].

Endorphin-treated ewes had fluctuating hormone levels (GnRH and LH). Endorphin mechanisms can carefully balance hormone levels [6].

5) Help Treat Schizophrenia

In schizophrenic patients, the antipsychotics regimens normalize endorphin levels in the blood. The drugs helped treat schizophrenia by regulating endorphin levels [7].

Negative Effects of Endorphins

1) Induce Inflammation

The release of endorphins in mice causes the secretion of chemicals (reactive oxygen species) that play a role in programmed cell death, cancer and aging. In the gut of these mice, the white blood cells could not send out signals that help control inflammation [8].

2) Can Cause Prader-Willi Syndrome symptoms

Increased endorphin blood levels in children with Prader-Willi syndrome could be responsible for the increased appetite and abnormal hormone levels [9].

This causes cellular feedback loop mechanisms to not function correctly [9].

Ways Endorphin Levels Increase

  • Exercise [10]
  • Chocolate [11]
  • Ultraviolet light increases the number of endorphins in the skin, leading to the possibility of an addiction to UV radiation [12].

Ways Endorphin Levels Decrease

  • 17 beta-estradiol [13]
  • Hippophae Rhamnoides [14]

Want More Targeted Ways to Improve Your Mood?

If you’re interested in natural and more targeted ways of improving your mood, we at SelfHacked recommend checking out this mood wellness report. It gives genetic-based diet, lifestyle and supplement tips that can help improve your mood. The recommendations are personalized based on your genes.

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About the Author

Helen Quach

BS (Biochemistry)

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