Marijuana Buzz Linked to Runner's HighBy Paul Simao - from
ATLANTA (Reuters) - The same family of chemicals
that produces a buzz in marijuana smokers may be responsible for "runner's
high," the euphoric feeling that some people get when they exercise, U.S.
High levels of anandamide were found in young men
who ran or cycled at a moderate rate for about an hour, according to a study
made public by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of
Anandamide is a cannabinoid, or lipid molecule,
that is naturally produced in the body. It is known to produce sensations that
are similar to those of THC, the psychoactive property in marijuana.
The study's findings, which were recently
published in the journal NeuroReport, fly in the face of those who believe that
the release of brain chemicals called endorphins cause the peculiar high that
some runners and cyclists claim to feel.
Arne Dietrich, the study's principal investigator
and a former visiting professor at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, believes the body
releases cannabinoids to help it cope with the prolonged stress and pain of
moderate or intense exercise.
"No other study has ever considered this
possibility, which is why the results are so significant," said Dietrich, who
added that there were no indications that cannabinoids caused any harm when
naturally released during intense exercise.
He added that the findings could provide
sufferers of glaucoma and chronic diseases an alternative to using marijuana
for pain control. Use of the drug for medical purposes has been approved by
voters in some states, but remains illegal under federal law and highly
controversial in the medical community.
The 24 young men who participated in Dietrich's
study were asked to run, cycle or sit. If they ran or cycled, participants
began with a brief warm-up, followed by 45 minutes of moderate exercise and
then a short cool-down period.
Dietrich said further studies were necessary to
determine the precise nature of the increase in cannabinoids during physical
activity and to what degree the intensity, duration and type of exercise
affected their release.
The "runner's high" theory emerged in the United
States during the running craze of the 1970s, when researchers discovered the
brain's opiate receptors, which are proteins located on the surface of nerve
Some scientists, however, say the concept is a
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