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Team Kulture

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Christopher Harrington
Christopher Harrington


There are more than 20 types of endorphins in your body. Beta-endorphins are the endorphins involved in stress relief and pain management. Beta-endorphins have a stronger effect than morphine on your body.



Endorphins are released when your body feels pain or stress. Your body releases endorphins to help you survive. When you feel pain, nerves in your body send pain signals to your brain. Your brain releases endorphins to block the nerve cells that receive the pain signals.

Endorphins boost the release of dopamine in your body. Dopamine is another neurotransmitter. The release of dopamine affects your mood. People with a lack of endorphins may show signs of depression. This is because of a lack of dopamine. Other effects of endorphin deficiency can include:

In 1972 brain researchers from Johns Hopkins University made a puzzling discovery that would illuminate scientists' understanding of drug addiction. They found that the human brain's neurons had specific receptor sites for opiate drugs: opium, heroin, codeine and morphine. But then there was the obvious question.Why would nature put in our brains a receptor for a plant? After all, humans beings didn't evolve over millions of years eating opium or shooting heroin.The scientists reasoned there must be some other function for these receptors sites. They soon figured out that the active ingredient in all these opiates - morphine - had a chemical structure similar to endorphins, a class of chemicals present in the brain . Endorphins are feel-good chemicals naturally-manufactured in the brain when the body experiences pain or stress. They are called the natural opiates of the body.Endorphins flood the space between nerve cells and usually inhibit neurons from firing, thus creating an analgesic effect. On a lower level they can excite neurons as well. When endorphins do their work, the organism feels good, high, or euphoric, and feels relief from pain [analgesia]. Logically, endorphin levels go up when a person exercises, goes into labor, or is stressed out. Although they seem to be triggered by stress, endorphins can do more than relieve pain, they actually make us feel good.Like an evil twin, the morphine molecule locks onto the endorphin-receptor sites on nerve endings in the brain and begins the succession of events that leads to euphoria or analgesia. This imposter is more powerful than the body's own endorphins because the organism can actually control how much of the feel-good chemical hits the brain. Since we are all pleasure-seeking organisms, the motivation to self-administer such a drug is easy to understand.The drawback, of course, is addiction.

Alternatively (or in addition), try out a laughing yoga class. In these courses, students are encouraged to do deep belly laughs while exercising and stretching. The combination results in a compounded release of endorphins.

Rivier C, Vale W, Ling N, Brown M, Guillemin R.(1976) Stimulation in vivo of the secretion of prolactin and growth hormone by beta-endorphin. Endocrinology. 100:238-241. Available from: [Accessed 25th April 2018]

A series of opiate compounds was tested for their ability to depress the probability that the protozoan Stentor coeruleus would contract in response to mechanical stimulation. Of these β-endorphin proved to be the most effective. The depressive effect of β-endorphin is concentration-dependent with an approximate E.C.50 of 3.0 μM and time-dependent with the maximum depression occurring 15 min after drug exposure. The effect of β-endorphin is blocked by the opiate antagonist naloxone and pertussis toxin suggesting that it is mediated by a G-protein coupled opiate receptor. β-endorphin does not alter responding to photic or electrical stimuli indicating its action is specific to the mechanical stimulus transduction mechanism. In agreement with this conclusion, electrophysiological studies reveal that β-endorphin decreases the amplitude of the mechanoreceptor potential without altering other membrane properties. Voltage clamp analysis shows that β-endorphin acts by decreasing inward currents through the mechanoreceptor channel at transmembrane potentials between -70 and + 20 mV without affecting the outward currents observed at more depolarized voltages. The fact that a mammalian neuromodulatory peptide is capable of producing a specific modulation of an ion channel in a unicellular eukaryote indicates that mechanisms of signal transduction and neuromodulation originated at an early stage in evolution.

In previous reports modest levels of beta-endorphin have been found by radioimmunoassay in rat testis, and localized by immunofluorescence to the interstitial cells. We have confirmed these previous reports and extended them by showing that the majority of testicular endorphins are acetylated forms, N-acetyl gamma-endorphin, N-acetyl alpha-endorphin, and N-acetyl beta-endorphin1-27. In addition, N-acetylated endorphins are not found in interstitial cells, but are confined to spermatogonia and primary spermatocytes.

"Very little research has been done into why we laugh and what role it plays in society," study researcher Robin Dunbar, of the University of Oxford, said in a statement. "We think that it is the bonding effects of the endorphin rush that explain why laughter plays such an important role in our social lives."

Chuckle it upDunbar and colleagues thought our guffaws might turn on the brain's endorphins, a long debated, but unproven idea. These pain-relieving chemicals are created in response to exercise, excitement, pain, spicy food, love and sexual orgasm, among other things.

In addition to giving us a "buzz," these endorphins raise our ability to ignore pain. So the researchers used the endorphins' pain relief to determine if laughter causes an endorphin release. They first tested participants for their pain threshold, then exposed them to either a control or a laugh-inducing test, and then tested pain levels again.

Why laughter releases endorphinsAcross all tests, the participants' ability to tolerate pain jumped after laughing. On average, watching about 15 minutes of comedy in a group increased pain threshold by 10 percent. Participants tested alone showed slightly smaller increases in their pain threshold.

"When laughter is elicited, pain thresholds are significantly increased, whereas when subjects watched something that does not naturally elicit laughter, pain thresholds do not change (and are often lower)," the authors write in the paper. "These results can best be explained by the action of endorphins released by laughter."

The researchers believe that the long series of exhalations that accompany true laughter cause physical exhaustion of the abdominal muscles and, in turn, trigger endorphin release. (Endorphin release is usually caused by physical activity, like exercise, or touch, like massage.)The study was published today (Sept. 13) in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 041b061a72


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