Runner’s high, THC and some interesting connections…
I don’t get runner’s high. That unique euphoric feeling you’re supposed to get after running or exercising? I have never experienced it.
Now exercise can be fun at times. (It can also be incredibly tedious, but I am a scientific sceptic, so I understand I need some level of activity now to remain physically and mentally mobile in my older age.) What it never is for me is exhilarating. I never get that buzz that some people used to go on about.
When I exercise, I don’t feel better afterward. I just feel tired. Or bloody tired, depending on intensity, etc. Or just no different. No matter how I exercise, I don’t get the buzz some people go on about.
However, some recent research I’ve found gave me an interesting insight into this.
You see, the typical explanation for runner’s high is endorphins targetting the opioid system. But people getting runner’s high would still keep on getting it, even when they got opioid antagonists. So either it was all placebo, or there was some other factor involved.
In recent years, however, there was some very interesting research suggesting endocannabinoids might be the real cause of runner’s high. This idea is strengthened by the fact that cannabinoid antagonists do block runner’s high, unlike opioid antagonists.
And it does seem to tie in nicely with a couple of things I’ve experienced…
See, I’m one of the people who don’t get high on THC. I actually tend to have more fun just from watching the reactions of people who do get high, any attempts at smoking have, for me, always been a very ‘meh’ experience. Now if this is the same system that works with runner’s high, it’d explain why I never could get the damned thing. In fact, it’d be a very interesting idea for a simple research project. Simply ask pot smokers who’ve also exercised how high they get and how strong a post-exercise euphoria they get and whether they match. Simple, but might be quite useful to identify any connections.
But the connections aren’t over. See, the substance which seems to prevent people like me from getting high on pot (and also has some interesting effects on alcohol consumption) is pregnenolone. This steroid/neurosteroid has quite a few interesting functions, including, apparently being an endocannabinoid antagonist. And one of the things which appear to have a huge influence on pregnenolone levels in the brain? Why a little drug I’ve been taking religiously since I’ve been a wee lad.
Caffeine greatly increases pregnenolone levels in the brain. It’s high intake also decreases the level of endocannabinoid transmitters in the brain. And when I found these bits of data, the three separate parts of my life clicked together in a fascinating way.
Now, cause-and-effect is unknown here. Do I have a naturally weaker endocannabinoid system, which makes me more open to higher levels of caffeine, because I don’t get quite the punishment for it that people with a more typical endocannabinoid system get? Or, if I somehow (shudder) decided to skip the black nectar alltogether for several months, would I start to be able to get high after smoking a joint? To get high after intense exercise, with enhanced pregnenolone levels no longer stopping the process?
I don’t know and frankly, while I’m a tinkerer at heart, my caffeine intake is NOT something I intend to tinker with (unless it’s to increase it!) So I won’t be able to give you a clear answer here. Nonetheless, it was a very satisfying moment, to see these three separate bits of my life click together into a solid puzzle piece.