NOV 30, 2021 8:00 AM PST

The Body Makes Its Own Anti-inflammatory 'Cannabis' After a Workout

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Feeling great after hitting the gym? That’s because of the flood of endorphins released into the body after a bout of activity, molecules with similar neurological effects as morphine, triggering euphoric, blissful, and energizing feelings. 

Now, new research by scientists from the University of Nottingham says that exercise also triggers the secretion of a cannabis-like substance with potent anti-inflammatory effects, potentially supporting the management of conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, and cancer.

We know that physical activity is linked to an overall reduction in inflammation, but we still aren’t clear how. As part of this study, scientists led by Ana Valdes brought together a cohort of 78 individuals with arthritis and divided them into two groups. One group did 15 minutes of strength training daily for six weeks, while the other remained sedentary.

Afterward, the researchers were surprised to find that the individuals who exercised experienced significant pain reduction. In addition, the scientists observed a noticeable shift in the composition of their gut microbiota (there were more bacteria that secreted anti-inflammatory molecules) and lower levels of cytokines, a key marker of inflammation.

The researchers also measured spikes in endocannabinoids (a cannabis-like chemical produced by the body), which was linked to the rise in anti-inflammatory gut microbes.

The endocannabinoid system, or the ECS, involves a complex web of multiple cell-signaling systems and was first discovered in the early 90s by researchers studying the biological effects of cannabinoids such as THC. Until now, many aspects of the ECS have remained elusive. However, we know that endocannabinoids can influence sleep, mood, appetite, and several other biological pathways. This study opens the door to exciting connections between endocannabinoids, the microbiome, and the immune system. 

“As interest in cannabidiol oil and other supplements increases, it is important to know that simple lifestyle interventions like exercise can modulate endocannabinoids,” commented Amrita Vijay, one of the researchers involved in the study.


 

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
OCT 12, 2021
Health & Medicine
Atopic Dermatitis: A Harbinger of Autoimmune Diseases?
OCT 12, 2021
Atopic Dermatitis: A Harbinger of Autoimmune Diseases?
New research published in Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology found an increased risk of autoimmune disease develo ...
OCT 21, 2021
Immunology
Sunshine Vitamin Boosts Dairy Cows' Immunity
OCT 21, 2021
Sunshine Vitamin Boosts Dairy Cows' Immunity
A new study shows how vitamin D can help dairy cows fend off infections, offering opportunities for better animal health ...
DEC 09, 2021
Immunology
Stopping the Spread of COVID by Chewing Gum?
DEC 09, 2021
Stopping the Spread of COVID by Chewing Gum?
Scientists have developed a special chewing gum that could reduce the risk of spreading SARS-CoV-2. The technology was d ...
DEC 21, 2021
Immunology
Shark Immune Proteins as Pandemic 'Insurance'?
DEC 21, 2021
Shark Immune Proteins as Pandemic 'Insurance'?
Sharks are incredibly hardy creatures—they've survived in marine ecosystems, often unchallenged predators, for ...
DEC 28, 2021
Immunology
Blood-Sucking Worms No Match Against Vaccine Pill
DEC 28, 2021
Blood-Sucking Worms No Match Against Vaccine Pill
Ancylostoma caninum, a type of hookworm, attached to the intestinal mucosa. Image via Wikimedia Commons. Hookworms are b ...
JAN 03, 2022
Cancer
Heating Up the Immune Response: Turning Cold Tumors Hot
JAN 03, 2022
Heating Up the Immune Response: Turning Cold Tumors Hot
Immune checkpoints are present on the surface of immune cells throughout the body.  Under normal conditions, they r ...
Loading Comments...