Working out can trigger body's 'cannabis-like substances:' Study

They are called “cannabis-like substances” because they behave similarly to the cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant.

Jane Stevenson 2 minute read November 28, 2021

You know that old saying: “The motion is the lotion.”

Well, it turns out exercise helps you produce your own “cannabis-like substances” which can benefit your health, according to a study from the University of Nottingham’s school of medicine in the U.K.

The research — published in the journal Gut Microbes — says so-called endocannabinoids can reduce inflammation and help treat such things as arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.

“Our study clearly shows that exercise increases the body’s own cannabis-type substances which can have a positive impact on many conditions,” study author Dr. Amrita Vijay said in a statement.

“As interest in cannabidiol (CBD oil) and other supplements increases, it is important to know that simple lifestyle intervention like exercise can modulate endocannabinoids.”

Endocannabinoids help regulate metabolism, inflammation, pain control, muscle strength, memory, and mood with the help of cannabinoids.

Researchers, who analyzed stool and blood samples from 78 study participants — all over the age of 45 and suffering from painful knee osteoarthritis — found that movement is capable of pumping up the presence of these anti-inflammatory and cannabis-like molecules by changing gut bacteria.

They are called “cannabis-like substances” because they behave similarly to the cannabinoids produced by the cannabis plant. However, instead of having to smoke or ingest cannabis,  endocannabinoids are naturally produced by your body.

Of the 78 study participants, 38 performed “15 minutes of muscle-strengthening exercises every day for six weeks,” and 40 did nothing.

Blood and stool samples revealed those who exercised felt pain relief and had more gut bacteria producing anti-inflammatory substances.

Researchers said active participants also had higher levels of endocannabinoids that were the reason for one-third of the anti-inflammatory effects found in the gut.

None of these changes were found in the inactive group.


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