Recently, a group of scientists found out that our body’s natural cannabinoids are responsible for our runner’s high.

For the longest time, we thought that endorphins caused “runner’s high” — that feeling of bliss when we run. But research in the past two decades revealed that endocannabinoids might be the primary cause of this high instead.

A group of researchers from the Wayne State University School of Medicine confirmed that endocannabinoids are, indeed, the primary cause of runner’s high. By reviewing the literature, the researchers concluded that the endocannabinoid (eCB) system plays a huge part in maintaining homeostasis. It turns out that our bodies produce natural cannabinoids when we run, and these molecules attach to our eCB system. As a result, we experience that nice euphoric feeling once we get into our run.

What Are The Health Benefits of Our Natural Cannabinoids?

There’s quite a lot of research that shows that running gives us many health benefits. We can prevent many common diseases by running regularly. Diabetes, heart attacks, cancer and hypertension, are all health conditions we can avoid through physical exercise. So, it turns out running also helps with our mental health; studies show that regular exercise is linked to lower anxiety and fewer depression symptoms.

The question is now if our bodies’ natural cannabinoids are responsible for these health benefits. We do that endocannabinoids help with pain relief and reduce stress and anxiety. So there are some definite health benefits that endocannabinoids cause. But the direct correlation between the eCB system and running’s health benefits remains somewhat unclear.

Photo By: Lucas Pezeta

Seeing as endocannabinoids and medicinal cannabis interact with our bodies in pretty much the same way (through our eCB system), are there similarities in the benefits of exercise and medicinal cannabis? From what we know of medicinal cannabis, many of its benefits overlap with endocannabinoids. For example, people who use medicinal cannabis report that it helps ease pain and relieve anxiety. These are the same benefits we get when our bodies release endocannabinoids during a run. We can’t really replace physical activity with cannabis, but medicinal cannabis sure does help in a similar way.

Footnote(s)