What are endorphins, why do we need them and what are the consequences of their deficiency?

Eating dark chocolate

There is evidence that eating dark chocolate may increase endorphins and other feel-good chemicals such as dopamine. Dark chocolate is rich in polyphenol compounds such as flavonoids, which cause the brain to release endorphins.

Also, dark chocolate is a moderate source of caffeine, which can improve mood. Ideally, choose dark chocolate that has at least 70% cocoa and eat a few small pieces at a time.


Having sex increases the release of endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter associated with creating a sense of belonging and trust. Sex also increases your heart rate and stamina, which can help improve your health and mood.

to dance

Dancing can be fun and good for your health. Dancing is a form of cardiorespiratory exercise that increases the heart rate and releases endorphins, which can improve your mood and reduce pain.


Meditation is an exercise that includes the training of awareness and mindfulness and presence. Meditation improves health by activating the parasympathetic system, or the digestive and rest system, and calms the body’s stress response system, called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis.

Additionally, meditation is thought to increase the release of endorphins; Because people who do it regularly have been shown to have a higher pain threshold, although the mechanism is not fully understood. It is unclear whether endorphins actually raise the pain threshold in these individuals, or whether this has more to do with acceptance or anticipation of pain.

The difference between endorphin and dopamine

While often confused, endorphins are different from dopamine or endocannabinoids. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and hormone that is released by the brain’s reward center during times of pleasure, such as when having sex, eating tasty food, or watching a comedy show.

Although both are part of the brain’s reward system, endorphins are released quickly during a specific activity, such as exercise, to help reduce pain and stress. On the other hand, dopamine is released slowly and improves mood after exercise.

The difference between endorphins and endocannabinoids

Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters produced by the body’s endocannabinoid system. They have many roles in the body such as pain relief, anxiety reduction, mood regulation, appetite and digestion management, and sleep improvement.

Although endocannabinoids are similar to cannabinoids (the main chemicals in horseradish, such as THC), the body produces these substances naturally. Both endocannabinoids and cannabinoids act on cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body. Interestingly, endocannabinoids are the main cause of the “runner’s high” that people experience during exercise, which was previously attributed to endorphins.

Although recent research shows that endocannabinoids lead to feelings of euphoria; Because unlike endorphins, they can easily cross the blood-brain barrier. Most of the time, the body releases many neurotransmitters and hormones at the same time during pain and pleasure; For this reason, endorphins, endocannabinoids and dopamine are closely related.

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