Discovered in 1975 endorphins are one of several substances in the brain that resemble morphine. These substances were referred to as opoids. The polypeptide endorphin contains thirty amino acid units. Opoids are considered stress hormone like corticotrophin, cortisol, and catecholamines (adrenaline, nonadrenaline), and are created by the body to reduce stress and pain levels. Endorphins are usually produced during periods of extreme stress and naturally block pain signals produced by the bodys nervous system.
The human body can produce at least 20 different endorphins with possible benefits and uses that researchers are investigating. The Beta endorphins seem to be the endorphin that has the strongest affect on the body during exercise. This type of peptide hormone is formed mostly by Tyrosine, an amino acid. The molecular structure of this chemical highly resembles morphine but as different chemical properties.
Endorphins are believed to have four significant effects on the body and mind they enhance the immune system, relieve pain, reduce stress and postpone the aging process. Scientists have also found that beta-endorphins can activate human NK (Natural Killer) cells and boost the immune system against diseases and kill cancer cells.
Athletes often experience a second wind rather than feeling pain and exhaustion. Toward the end of a race many runners feel energized and limber. DR. William Straw M.D physician for the San Jose Sharks, at some point you may feel a little more energetic and you can kick-in when you did not feel like you could kick-in before. Endorphins can be released in various amounts for different people. One person may experience and endorphin rush after ten minutes of intense exercise while it may take another thirty minutes before they start to feel their second wind.
Production of endorphins can increase 200% from the beginning to end of sexual activity. Dr. Candace Pert, Ph.D. of Johns Hopkins University, have documented the connection between orgasm and endorphins. Physical contact as well as sexual activity plays a role in the production of endorphins. The homormone oxytocin is also produces during prolonged physical contact and sexual activity. These two chemicals together act as natural opiates.
Exercise has an affect on the brain that is accredited to many things. Endorphins play a role in the stress release one feels after a workout, but many other factors also contribute to euphoric feelings. Relaxation and deep breathing release tension and can create a calming affect. The feeling of accomplishment that a person feels after conquering a goal can also create confidence and alleviate depression symptyoms.