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The Beneficial Effects of Endorphins & 8 Different Ways To Increase Their Levels

Why Do Humans Need Endorphins?

Endorphins are very essential for the well being of the human beings. Endorphins help a lot by elevating a person’s mood along with them being a natural pain relievers released by the body.

Endorphins are important chemicals produced naturally by the body when performing any pleasurable activities, such as laughing, playing and during sex. Endorphins are also released when undergoing painful experiences, such as falling down, bumping your head or twisting your ankle. Many people have often experienced a great feeling after doing something which they like and this is referred as “endorphin rush.”

Let’s discuss more in detail about what endorphins do for our body; why do we need them and how their levels can be increased.

The Beneficial Effects of Endorphins

What is the Purpose of Endorphins?(1, 2)

Endorphins are referred to as endogenous opioids and are actually a group of protein chains known as peptides. The pituitary and hypothalamus gland are responsible for controlling and releasing endorphins.(1, 2)

Endorphins are also thought to be a form of neurotransmitter and some also consider them to be hormones. Endorphins affect the opiate receptors and help in relieving pain and boosting the mood and feelings of pleasure.

The Origin Of The Word “Endorphin”

The word “endorphin” is derived from the word “endogenous,” which means from the body and the latter part of the word “endorphin” comes from “morphine,” which is an opiate pain reliever.

The Most Effective Endorphin(1, 2)

There are different types of endorphins, however, beta-endorphins are the ones which are most popular and the most researched upon and they also have more pain-relieving effects.

Endorphins are not completely understood till now; however, endorphins are thought to be responsible for how human perceive pleasure and pain. Endorphins are released both when experiencing pleasurable and painful experiences.

What Are The Beneficial Effects Of Endorphins?(1)

Some of the known benefits of endorphins for humans are:

  • Increasing pleasure.
  • Decreasing discomfort and pain.
  • Increasing a person’s self-esteem.
  • Helps in alleviating inflammation.
  • Helps in reducing anxiety, depression and stress.
  • Benefits by greatly improving the mood.
  • Endorphins can help in supporting cognitive and memory function.
  • Endorphins can help in maintaining a healthy immune system.

What Happens When There Are Low Levels Of Endorphins In The Body?(3, 4, 5)

If there is less level of endorphins in the body or if the body is not producing sufficient amount of endorphins, then the person can be at a higher risk for developing some symptoms or health conditions including: difficulty in sleeping; increased aches; addiction issues; mood swings; and have an increased risk for suffering from anxiety and depression.

Studies have revealed that patients suffering from migraines have decreased levels of beta-endorphins in their blood.(6)

However, there is very less research on the deficiency of endorphin and more studies need to be done.

How to Endorse Your Endorphins? 8 Different Ways to Increase Your Endorphin Levels

  1. LAUGHTER is always the best medicine

    Laughing instantly helps you better your mood and makes people surrounding you also happy and releases endorphins and other happy hormones, such as serotonin and dopamine. Laughing along with releasing endorphins also helps in reducing the stress hormones, such as cortisol and this results in stronger immune system; better mood, reduced blood pressure; lowered stress and pain alleviation. (7, 8, 9, 10, 11) So, watch a funny show, your favorite sitcom and laugh your endorphins up!

  2. EXERCISE to Increase Your Endorphins

    Exercise is beneficial for your physical, emotional and mental health; and this is why it is recommended for enhancing one’s mood and reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.(12, 13, 14, 15)

    Strength training and moderate to intense aerobic exercise helps in releasing and increasing the levels of endorphins and other happy chemicals, which make you feel good, such as serotonin, dopamine and endocannabinoids.(16, 17, 18)

    Some of the beneficial exercises, which can be done with moderate intensity are: Gardening; bike ride and brisk walk. Intense exercises which can be done are jogging, running, skiing, cycling etc.

    The best thing is, only 20 to 30 minutes of exercise daily is needed to increase your endorphin levels.(16, 17, 18)

  3. Boost Your Endorphins by Listening to MUSIC

    Along with entertaining you, music is also good for your health. There are many studies which have revealed that music helps release endorphins, which in turn has pain-reducing effects and increases pain threshold. Music therapy is gaining popularity as an effective intervention in many medical centers.(19, 20, 21) Listening to music while exercising can help you exercise more by reducing the discomfort and soreness resulting from any workout.(22) Upbeat music also helps in uplifting your mood by releasing dopamine and endorphins.(23)

    So, tuning into your favorite tunes is a great way to increase your endorphin levels and reap all the benefits to your mood and overall health.

  4. Indulge in DARK CHOCOLATE to Increase Your Endorphin Levels

    Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate helps in increasing the levels of endorphins and dopamine.(24) Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids, which are polyphenolic compounds which trigger the brain into releasing endorphins. Dark chocolate also has caffeine in moderation, which can also contribute to better mood.(25) Dark chocolate, which has a minimum of 70% cocoa, should be consumed and one shouldn’t go overboard with it and eat few squares at a time.

  5. Increase Your Endorphins by MAKING LOVE

    Sexual intercourse is known to increase the release of oxytocin, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin, which are linked to trust.(26, 27, 28) Sex also promotes stamina and increases the heart rate, which benefits your mood and health.(29, 30, 31)

  6. ACUPUNCTURE: Needle Your Endorphins to Make Them Rise

    Acupuncture is an alternative branch of medicine with its roots in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Western medicine is also now accepting acupuncture as an effective treatment for many health issues and for alleviating pain. The mechanism of acupuncture is not completely clear to the experts; however, it is thought that acupuncture stimulates the central nervous system and releases endorphins via puncturing of the skin with small needles at specific points on the body.(32, 33) Research has also proved acupuncture to be an effective pain treatment; however, it may not be the perfect choice for some people.(34, 35, 36, 37)

  7. DANCE: Get Your Moves On To Increase the Endorphins in Your Body

    Dancing is not only a pleasurable activity, but can also be a good form of workout where it greatly benefits your health and mood. Dance is a type of cardio-respiratory exercise, which increases your heart rate and releases endorphins, resulting in decreased pain and better mood.(38, 39)

    If you choose to dance in group settings, then it can benefit you socially, help you connect with other people and reduce your stress levels.(38, 39)

    Whether you are dancing in your bedroom or at a disco, dancing is sure to give a boost to boost your sagging spirits.

  8. Increase your Endorphin Levels with MEDITATION

    More and more people are taking up Meditation, which is a practice where one has to train themselves to be more mindful and aware of their present.

    Studies have shown that meditation benefits your health by activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, along with decreasing the stress response system of the body’s.(40, 41) Meditation also helps in releasing endorphins and people who meditate consistently seem to have higher pain thresholds.(42, 43, 44, 45)

A Quick Comparison of Endorphins to Other Similar Chemicals

Endorphins vs. Dopamine

These two happy chemicals are commonly confused for one another and it is important to mention here that endorphins are completely different from dopamine.

Dopamine is a hormone and a neurotransmitter, which makes you feel-good and is released from the brain’s reward center when someone is experiencing pleasure, watching a good show or eating good food or travelling etc.(46, 47, 48)

Endorphin and dopamine are part of the reward system of the brain; however, the main difference is endorphins get rapidly released during a particular act, such as dancing, which helps in relieving stress and pain. On the other hand, dopamine gets released slowly and the feel good factor comes after the completion of any activity.

Endorphins vs. Opioids

Both opioids and endorphins act on the same receptors, which are the opioid receptors; however, there are some important differences between the two. Opioid drugs release dopamine by acting on opioid receptors; and the feel good effect of these drugs subsides and is temporary, which make the person crave for more of this sensation.(49)

After using opioids for a long period of time, the human body adapts or gets used to increased levels of dopamine and for this reason; larger dose of opioids is needed to achieve the same benefits/sensation. This leads to a vicious cycle resulting in a constant search for that “high” experienced before.(49)

This results in addiction of opioid drugs and a decreased ability for experiencing pleasure from other pleasurable activities, such as having sex, travelling, reading, socializing and eating food.

Serious side effects can occur as a result from withdrawal from opioid drugs and these can mimic the feelings of grief: like depression, anxiety, appetite loss, mood swings and insomnia.

On the other hand, endorphins also act in a similar manner in pain management without the intense response and dependency, as seen in opioids. Endorphins are produced naturally by the body and often do not reach the saturation levels, which need increased activity to experience the same feeling of “high” or pleasure.(50, 51)

Endorphins vs. Endocannabinoids

Endocannabinoids are also neurotransmitters, which are released by the endocannabinoid system of the body. The functions of Endocannabinoids are many: including mood regulation, pain reduction, managing digestion and appetite; relieving anxiety and improving sleep. (52, 53) Endocannabinoids are produced naturally by the body and act on the cannabinoid receptors present all over the body.(54, 55)

The “runner’s high,” which is experienced during any workout or physical exercise is due to the release of endocannabinoids and not endorphins as thought earlier. Recent studies have shown that endocannabinoids easily permeate blood-brain barrier, which endorphins don’t owing to their larger size; and produce feelings of euphoria.(56, 57)

Many times, when the body is experiencing pleasure or pain, it releases different hormones and neurotransmitters at the same time and this is why endorphins, dopamine and endocannabinoids are so closely associated and spoken about in the same context.(58)

Are You An Endorphin Addict? Is It Possible To Get Addicted To Endorphins?

There is very less research whether someone can become addicted to the “endorphin rush,” produced by certain activities. A good example of someone who is an endorphin addict is that someone will not hesitate to embark on dangerous activities for that rush of endorphins and adrenaline.(59)

A study done in 2016 showed eight mountain climbers, after not climbing for some time, suffered from withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, disengagement, mood swings and cravings or strong desire to go climbing.(59)

Self-harm is another example, where a person upon hurting themselves will experience a rush of endorphins. Such people can continue to practice self-harm to achieve this sensation of emotional release and become addicted to the endorphin rush.(60)

More research is needed to understand better this situation of being “addicted to endorphins.”


Endorphins are vital for human body, as they are not only responsible for giving you pleasure, but also are natural pain relievers of the body. Activities, such as dancing, exercising, laughing, having sex and listening to music are great ways to increase the level of endorphins.

Other health benefits of endorphins are reduction in anxiety, depression, better mood, increased self-esteem; decreased discomfort and pain.

There is no doubt regarding the numerous benefits of endorphins and how important they are for human; however, endorphins may not work in the same manner for everyone. If you or someone is struggling with your mood or pain management, then it is important to talk with your physician immediately who can chalk out an alternative treatment plan and therapies for you.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 3, 2022

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