The production of endorphins and dopamine within the human body system can give rise to feelings of pleasure, general well-being and in the case of endorphins alone, the mitigation of pain. Endorphins are thought to be a product of ancient survival mechanisms, which ensured that when under stress, the fight for survival came first, and the pain and recuperation from injury came after the danger had passed. Dopamine, a well-known neurotransmitter that is implicated in the reward circuitry of the brain and often inextricably linked with addictive disease, can also be regulated to keep you motivated, upbeat and enthusiastic about activities of daily living.
Exercise regularly. Endorphins are released from the pituitary gland during strenuous exercise because exercise is a form of healthy stress that can be placed upon the body. The endorphins then have the ability to bind to opiate receptors throughout the body, helping to minimize the pain that is incurred as the exercise becomes longer in duration and intensity. If you exercise regularly, you may even experience a “runner’s high”, which can leave an athlete in a state of euphoria for some time after a session has ended.
Eat spicy foods, which can help you to stimulate the production of endorphins. Research at the University of Buffalo showed that the stimulation occurs when the “spicy” part of the food, like a substance called capsaicin, comes into contact with taste buds on your tongue, according to an article published in "San Diego Magazine" in June 2009. Receptors at sites on the tongue send a signal to the brain; the signal is similar to a pain signal. The pain signal triggers the release of feel-good endorphins. This may be why eating spicy foods seems to be so “addictive.”
Have sex and laugh, both of which release endorphins. Sex, laughter and exercise can help treat depression because of the endorphins that are released during these activities, according to Columbia University Health Services. Although it has been questioned, there is no evidence that too much sex, laughter or exercise can deplete endorphin levels, leading to depressive disease.
Get plenty of tyrosine in your diet. One of the accepted ways to stimulate the production of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine is by supplementing the diet with its precursor, the amino acid tyrosine. As a necessary precursor, if your diet is deficient in this amino acid, dopamine production can be diminished significantly. Some symptoms of low tyrosine and in turn, low dopamine, are low body temperature and blood pressure. You can get tyrosine by eating protein-rich meats, dairy and some grains and seeds. Although tyrosine supplements are available, you should only use these after consulting with your doctor to be sure this would be safe for you, since it can interact with some medications and isn't recommended if you have certain health conditions.
- St. Edwards University: Function [of Endorphins]
- Columbia University: Biology of Reward Mechanisms
- Lehigh University: Runner’s High
- University at Buffalo: San Diego Magazine: UB Research Shows Spicy Food Signals Brain to Release Feel-Good Endorphins
- Columbia University: Orgasms and Endorphins
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Tyrosine