Ahh, the holidays. The most joy-filled time of year. A time of holiday parties, busy days, indulgent food, and holiday ‘spirits’ (aka vodka, gin, rum, and...
In your day-to-day life, it is easy to feel bogged down by all the pressures and demands: work, home, family and other stressors. Of course you like to feel good and there are several ways to help keep you on the happy side of being, or to have a sense of ‘well-being’. In our brain are several messenger molecules, called neurotransmitters, which transmit the intended message through our brain to stimulate certain feelings and thoughts. One category of these messengers is called endorphins. Endorphins help your body cope with pain and stress and give you a sense of satisfaction and pleasure. Below are some ways to help promote the benefits of endorphins, to help you feel more happy and content.
Laughter is thought to promote endorphin release and studies have shown that it can reduce pain thresholds… it is true that laughter is a medicine in itself.
Studies have found that many essential oils help stimulate the limbic system of the brain which can have a profound effect on emotional well-being. Some examples of concentrated essential oils that can improve endorphin levels include lemon oil and angelica oil. Having an oil diffuser or putting a drop on a handkerchief and inhaling are simple ways to benefit.
Chili peppers help stimulate endorphin release. It’s no wonder chili extracts are commonly used to help with pain management.
Intense exercise is associated with increased endorphin release… long runs and heavy weight lifting is required for this effect to occur.
Orgasms trigger massive endorphin release in your brain and are associated with pleasure, social bonding and many other aspects of well-being.
Many herbs can help you feel more mentally balanced and happier. One study conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois evaluated the herb black cohosh; a herb traditionally used for cramping pains, hot flashes and nervous irritability. The study found that black cohosh could activate the endorphin-related binding sites in the body and may explain how this herb helps people with pain, nervousness and temperature fluctuation.
In my naturopathic medical practice I have found that acupuncture helps with pain, inflammation and mood balance, among other benefits. Many studies have found electro-acupuncture to be of specific benefit at promoting endorphin production. A 2013 study in the United Kingdom found that acupuncture made a significant difference at helping reduce depression, just as well as counseling.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that incorporating stress management techniques with yoga postures and yogic breathing made a significant difference in people with chronic inflammatory illnesses. Within ten days, study subjects were found to have reduced stress hormones (cortisol), reduced inflammation, and increased endorphin levels. Overall, with deep relaxation and putting more attention into caring for yourself, you can improve your mood in the positive direction.
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