Endorphins for Happy Moods and Pain Control

Possibly since the dawn of our humanity, hidden yet very real energies have existed that can generate instant physical healing, help control chronic pain, and give us the power of metanoia (the instantaneous changing of our minds or overcoming damaging habits). What would you think if I said you could access the phenomenal effects of these energies simply by increasing your endorphin levels? Come join me on a short but interesting journey through this intriguing topic.

 It never ceases to amaze me that I experienced this miracle firsthand. I believe it was endorphins, which produces incredible results worldwide, that led to the dramatic change I describe below. What I witnessed was so fascinating that I  wrote about it in my blog post, “Treating Alcoholism: What’s the Missing Link.”

In my article I describe a sudden change that took place in a close friend of mine. He drank 24/7 for well over ten years, and I thought he’d surely die of his deeply rooted alcoholism. Guided only by the energy of prayers from his friends and family, he went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting out of the clear blue sky and with no special prompting. And after that one encounter, he never again took another drink! That was well over six years ago, and he still remains productive and sober.

There are myriad stories about the power of prayer, and the topic has been studied extensively. The National Review writes about one study that shows prayer reduces negative emotion such as worry, freeing up mental energy which can then be used for more creative problem solving.

Whether or not you believe in God or prayer, you may have experienced times when you exerted your will or clarified your intentions, and then focused that power in some way. Perhaps to aid in healing or facilitate a deep change of heart, mind, and body. Yes, my dear readers, there are powerful energies at work here.

More About Endorphins

Endorphins are one of the many chemical neurotransmitters that signal the central nervous system to produce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and other positive emotions that can lead to a profound, and sometimes even permanent, change in the body. Endorphins can also suppress pain, shock, and other negative feelings and emotions.

How Stuff Works explains endorphins this way: “There are at least 20 different kinds of endorphins, and one kind, beta-endorphins, are stronger than morphine and have been shown to play a part in everything from alcoholism to diabetes to aging of the brain.”

Using Endorphins for Chronic Pain

I was recently given a copy of Chronic Pain Control by Vicki Ellis, which I very much enjoyed. I found her work to be a valuable addition to my own methods. Ellis writes of two pain-control techniques she developed, which I will share here. And since our endorphin levels are also affected by diet, I’m going to take the liberty of adding some important nutritional information below.

The first of the pain-control techniques that Ellis writes about is called Intrinsic Touch, which is a gentle, almost imperceptible type of contact in the area of the pain. The other is Mindfulness-Based Chronic Pain Control (MBCPC), or what I would call “mind over matter” techniques. Ellis emphasizes the importance of endorphins, which holds special interest for me.

Beset by lifelong chronic pain, Ellis developed these two very interesting and effective techniques to help her navigate her journey to wellness, as she documents in her book. These days, Ellis is also involved in consulting, practitioner training, and podcasting. You can learn more at her website, ChronicPainControl.org.

In my own practice, I sometimes found it difficult (if not impossible) to convince clients that their own endorphins could create incredibly happy feelings or even simultaneously reduce and/or control their pain! Ellis says that her MBCPC training can actually stimulate the production of these much sought-after neurotransmitters by using our own intuitive thoughts:

“Reach the pleasurable and rewarding state of mind by switching on the endorphin and pleasure centers and pain reducing pathways from MBCPC. Top-Down techniques bring on lightheartedness, and peace of mind. With euphoria and enthusiasm, you have no other way to go than UP. Switching on endorphin brings relaxation. By taking a deep breath at the same time, further relaxation reduces residual stress and pain. Lightheartedness and enthusiasm are contagious” (Chronic Pain Control, pp. 128–129).

My core message in this blog post is to convey how important it is to actually focus on the practice of increasing your endorphin levels. Before reading her book, I wasn’t aware of the methods for switching on the endorphins that Ellis describes.

In addition to these powerful techniques, there are many other habits and activities that can help increase your endorphin levels, including exercise, hobbies, laughter, prayer, and positive company. Most important of all, however, is balancing your brain chemistry by feeding both your mind and body nutritive chemicals found only in unadulterated whole foods, including supplements to round out otherwise healthy meals (see below).

Whole Foods that Encourage Endorphins and Other Major Neurotransmitters

According to Christopher Masterjohn’s article “The Pursuit of Happiness,” certain feel-good foods are critical to creating not only endorphins but other essential neurotransmitters for happiness. Masterjohn explains that “the foods that protect us against depression and help us engage in low time-preference, future-oriented activities are the same foods that traditional cultures valued for good health. They provide vitamins A and D, calcium and arachidonic acid in abundance.”

Below is a list of feel-good foods that Masterjohn recommends in his article. (I highly recommend reading the whole article. It’s an eye-opener!)

Feel-good foods:

  • Cod liver oil (vitamins A and D)
  • Butter from grass-fed animals (arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
  • Egg yolks from grass-fed chickens (arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
  • Fats from grass-fed animals (arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
  • Organ meats from grass-fed animals (arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
  • Bone broths (calcium)
  • Raw whole milk from grass-fed animals (calcium, arachidonic acid, vitamins A and D)
  • Fish eggs (vitamins A and D)
  • Small whole fish (calcium, vitamins A and D)
  • Shell fish (vitamins A and D)

  Whole Food Supplements that Affect Our Moods and Relieve Pain

 Mood: For anxiety, I highly recommend Min-Chex or Orchex. For depression, my favorite is St. John’s Wort.

 Pain relief: Instead of ibuprofen, I recommend Saligesic and Chlorophyll Complex And for inflammation, I recommend Boswellia Complex and Turmeric Forte.

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Afterthoughts from the Traditional Cook

This poem made me laugh, and I felt my endorphin levels rise. Hope it does the same for you. (Smile)

The bee that lived in her hair flew in and out of her ears,
rampaging round her ringlets, whispering little thinglets:
“Bee more productive!” it lisped. “Bee less grumpy!” it hissed
“Bee more sober!” it slurred (the hypocrite was pissed).
“Bee a good mother! Bee a less selfish lover!
Bee a good daughter! Do what you ought a!
Bee more efficient! Bee self-sufficient!”
On and on it went till she was spent.
She realized she could not care less about this buzzy-ness.
It wasn’t the bee all and end all, after all.
“Oh! Buzz off!” she said, as she flattened it.
—“Beehive Hairdo,” from Swimming with Endorphins by Fran Isherwood

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Note from Maria: I am a Certified Natural Health Professional, CNHP, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or claim to prevent, mitigate, or cure any human diseases. Please see your medical doctor prior to following any recommendations I make in my blogs or on my website.

Images from iStock/AntonioGuillem (main), jacoblund (father and son shaving), JulijaDmitrijeva (food). 

Maria Atwood, CNHP

Maria Atwood is a semiretired Certified Natural Health Professional and Weston A. Price Chapter Leader in Colorado Springs, CO. Visit her website at TraditionalCook.com. Also check out Maria’s Cook Your Way to Wellness DVD (also available as an e-learning course) and be sure to follow her Tips from the Traditional Cook blog.
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