Exercise increases the body’s ‘cannabis-like’ substances to fight cancer and heart disease

18th November 2021

Exercise triggers chemical reactions and a rise in the body’s cannabis-like substances that may help to fight severe medical conditions, a recent study finds.

According to Science Daily, the study – conducted by researchers at the University of Nottingham – exercise was associated with lower levels of pain and a reduction of substances known to cause inflammation in a sample of people with arthritis.

Researchers also identified a rise in levels of endocannabinoids – compounds similar to those found in the cannabis plant.

Exercise is known to elicit a feeling of euphoria, referred to as a “runner’s high”. Recent studies indicate that this euphoria is the result of the activation of the endocannabinoid system.


Exercise has been found to help reduce chronic inflammation – something that is thought to be a major contributor to severe diseases, such as cancer, arthritis and heart disease.

Dr Amrita Vijay, a Research Fellow in the School of Medicine and lead author of the study, said: “Our study clearly shows that exercise increases the body’s cannabis-type substances, which can have a positive impact on many conditions.

“As interest in cannabidiol oil and other supplements increases, it is important to know that simple lifestyle interventions like exercise can modulate endocannabinoids.”

A group of scientists tested 78 people with arthritis to assess the impact of exercise on their condition.

According to the report, 38 participants carried out 15 minutes of muscle-strengthening exercises every day for six weeks. The remaining 40 participants did nothing.

The results are telling: participants who did the exercise intervention not only reported reduced pain, but they also had more microbes in the gut that produce anti-inflammatory substances, lower levels of cytokines and higher levels of endocannabinoids.

This study shows that exercise could have an important role to play in fighting many severe medical conditions. It should be reiterated, though, that exercise alone is not an effective treatment. However, it seems as though the production of endocannabinoids could be key.

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