Before going on, we need to understand what endorphins are, and simply put they are the body’s natural painkillers. These natural painkillers are released by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland. This release is brought on by pain and/or stress.
Now that we understand what endorphins are, let’s look at the role mood plays in this equation.
Being in a good mood can aid in pain relief. Doing things that you enjoy can naturally raise your endorphins. Keep in mind that this is different from person to person. For some, exercise brings pain relief. Working in the garden or even a moderate stroll with a friend is enough to raise your endorphins levels. The key to this approach is to get at least 30 minutes of activity every day.
Another technique is to listen to music. This is especially true if the music is upbeat. Now how this works is not completely understood but those who listen to the music feel a mild level of pain relief as endorphins are released. This is one explanation as to why people like to listen to music as they work out. Combining exercise with music is a delightful way of reducing pain while enjoying yourself, which will improve your mood.
Looking for a reason to watch a comedy, well look no more. Laughing also increases endorphin levels, and it will put you in a great mood.
Foods that Naturally Increase Endorphins
While we have covered some simple activities one can pursue, what about foods that increase endorphin levels?
A famous one is dark chocolate. Now, the science behind eating dark chocolate starts off with the fact that this delicious treat is full of polyphenolic compounds like flavonoids that trigger the brain to release endorphins. It also contains a bit of caffeine, which raises the mood. Before you bite off that chuck of chocolate from that candy bar, keep in mind that it needs to be at least 70 percent cocoa. Also, keep in mind that a little goes a long way.
Eat something spicy. The hot, spicy taste of foods is not, in fact, a taste sensation but a feeling of pain. When it comes to using this approach, you need to make sure that the peppers are hot. What studies have shown is that capsaicin, which is the chemical that makes certain peppers hot, binds to pain receptors located in mucus membranes in the mouth and nose. The pain that is felt from this spicy food is offset by the production of endorphins, which reduces the duration of the burning from the hot peppers.
Herbs that Naturally Increase Endorphins
When it comes to herbs, there are several choices that can be used in different ways. Two that have been shown to increase endorphin levels through aroma are vanilla and lavender. While you can light a scented candle, why not start the day off by adding a drop or two of vanilla extract to your coffee pot before brewing? This simple technique will release the aroma of vanilla, which will put you in a great mood to start the day.
Smelling lavender is easy to achieve by growing the plant. You can add fresh lavender in a vase or just apply lavender oil to your wrist and/or temples. If you like the lavender oil approach but do not want it on your skin, there are clay necklaces that you can wear that will absorb essential oil when applied to the clay disk. This can be used over and over again, which will give you the opportunity to enjoy some aroma therapy anytime you need a mood boost.
Rhodiola rosea is also known to release beta-endorphins in the brain. This herb is used as an anti-depressant, where Rosiridin is the medicinal component of the herb.
There are also several herbal teas that increase endorphin levels. The first one is ginseng tea and the second one is lemon balm.
To begin, this ginseng tea starts off with 1 ounce of whole dried ginseng root, 1/3 ounce of dried licorice root, and 1/3 ounce of fresh ginger root. Once you have all your ingredients, you will need to add 8 cups of water to a saucepan along with your ginseng root. Place the saucepan on a medium-temperature burner and bring it to a boil. Once that happens, reduce the temperature and simmer for 1 hour. Then, add the licorice and ginger root along with 2 more cups of water. Bring to a boil again. Once that happens, turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes. Next, strain the liquid and enjoy.
Lemon balm tea is a wonderful tea to put you in a great mood. Not only will the aroma put you in a positive mood but the light, tanginess of the tea will put a smile on your face. Making this tea is just as simple and starts off with fresh or dried lemon balm. If you are using fresh, just put it in a mug and cover it with hot water. On the other hand, if you are using dried lemon balm, then add it to a tea infuser.
Now, this is where the combination and time of day come into play. If you find that you are having trouble sleeping due to pain, consider making this endorphin enhancer tea. The amounts in the recipe can be adapted to your taste or need but remember to only use this tea in the evening.
The deep sleep lemon balm tea contains 2 tbsp. dried lemon balm (or 4 tbsp. fresh herb), 2 parts chamomile, 1 part valerian, 1 part hops, and 1 part catmint. Mix all ingredients and add to a tea infuser in the amount you desire. Allow steeping for 5 minutes before enjoying.
Note: While all the techniques discussed seem to be simple and not something that needs to be discussed with your doctor, this is not the case. This is especially true when it comes to exercise, dark chocolate, and herbal tea use. Yes, doctors encourage people to exercise but you need to make sure that you are healthy enough to engage in 30 minutes of moderate exercise or suffer from weekend warrior syndrome or worse. Also, consuming dark chocolate can be dangerous for someone who suffers from diabetes since this product can be sweetened. Lastly, it is true that herbs are natural products, but it’s a good idea to discuss these teas with your doctor. Why? Some herbs do not work well with certain medications. In doing so, discussing herbal use with your doctor is very important.