Endorphins: Who, What, Where, When?

Sex: a zesty enterprise enjoyed at all times of the day and night, in all sorts of places. Though we understand the mechanics of the act and enjoy partaking, do we understand what is really at play in that roll in the hay? That warm feeling that overcomes us as we lay in each other’s arms after the fact is not simply brought on by prowess in the sack. Endorphins are at play, the body chemical that brings us pleasure and keeps us coming back for more.

Doing more than Double Duty
Our bodies produce thousands of chemicals that control impulses necessary for everyday function and sensory navigation. Endorphins, a multi-functional chemical, are emitted to counteract and deal with sensations by transmitting electrical impulses through the body to the nervous system. One of their duties is to help combat pain, much in the same way as morphine or codeine does. Endorphins are also responsible for producing the euphoric feeling one usually experiences after sex, or after an intense work out (often referred to as “runners-high”). Rigorous work outs not only keep us in shape, but also decrease our stress level due to the endorphins released into the body during the exercise. Other ways to trigger the release of these hormones is through the practice of meditation, acupuncture, and massage therapy.

Food and Endorphins
Certain foods have a direct effect on one’s mood. Like exercise and meditation, food such as cookies, cake, chocolate, candy (known as pleasure foods) can bring a person out of the worst mood. This occurrence is not simply due to the delightful sensation of dessert on the tongue together with the awakening of our taste buds. It is largely due to the chemical reaction that occurs in our brain when we eat sugar. The signal causes the body to release endorphins and dopamine giving the consumer a sense of exhilaration, otherwise known as a “sugar rush”. The addiction felt by those who eat these types of foods regularly is the result of the body craving not only the sugar, but also the wonderful euphoric feeling that is brought on by the brain’s reaction to the sugar being consumed.