Exercise can increase the body’s natural cannabis-like substances. This could help reduce inflammation and potentially treat ailments like arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.
A new study conducted by Gut Microbes found that exercising in people suffering from arthritis did not only lessen pain but also reduced the levels of inflammatory substances (called “cytokines”). The study also showed an increase in levels of cannabis-like substances called endocannabinoids, which are produced by their bodies. These modifications were made possible by exercising.
Exercise is known to decrease chronic inflammation, which in turn causes many diseases such as arthritis, cancer and heart disease, but it is not known how it reduces inflammation.
A group of scientists led by Professor Ana Valdes of the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego examined 78 arthritis sufferers. Thirty-eight performed muscle strengthening exercises for 15 minutes a day for six weeks. Forty-eight of them did nothing.
At the conclusion of the study, participants who did the exercise intervention had not only reduced their pain, but they also had more microbes in their guts of the kind that produce anti-inflammatory substances, lower levels of cytokines as well as higher levels of endocannabinoids.
The changes in gut microbes as well as antiinflammatory substances produced by microbes, known as SCFAS were strongly associated with the rise in endocannabinoids. The increase in endocannabinoids may be responsible for at least a third of the anti-inflammatory effects the gut microbiome has.
Our study clearly shows that exercise boosts the body’s own cannabis-like substances. This can have a positive effect on many ailments.
As cannabidiol oil gets more popular, it is important to know that even simple lifestyle changes like exercise can alter the endocannabinoids.
Doctor Amrita Vijay is a Research Fellow at the School of Medicine, and the first author of this paper.
Vijay, A., and al. (2021). Endocannabinoids are a part of the mechanism that mediates the anti-inflammatory properties of bacterial short-chain fatty acids. Gut Microbes. doi.org/10.1080/19490976.2021.1997559.
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