London: Exercise increases the body’s own cannabis-like substances, which in turn helps reduce inflammation and can potentially help treat certain conditions such as arthritis, cancer and heart disease, according to a new study.
The study, led by experts from the University of Nottingham, showed that exercising people with arthritis not only reduced their pain, but it also lowered the level of inflammatory substances called cytokines.
It also increased the level of cannabis-like substances produced by their own body, called endocannabinoids. Interestingly, the way training resulted in these changes was by changing the gut microbes.
For the study, published in the journal Gut Microbes, a group of scientists, led by Professor Ana Valdes of the School of Medicine at the university, tested 78 people with arthritis. 38 of them did 15 minutes of muscle-strengthening exercises every day for six weeks, and 40 did nothing.
By the end of the study, participants who did the exercise intervention had not only reduced their pain, but they also had more microbes in their intestines of the kind that produce anti-inflammatory drugs, lower levels of cytokines, and higher levels of endocannabinoids.
The increase in endocannabinoids was strongly associated with changes in intestinal microbes and anti-inflammatory substances produced by intestinal microbes called SCFAS.
In fact, at least one-third of the anti-inflammatory effects of the gut microbiome were due to the increase in endocannabinoids.
“Our study clearly shows that exercise increases the body’s own cannabis-like substances, which can have a positive impact on many conditions,” said Amrita Vijay, a research student at the University’s School of Medicine.
“As interest in cannabidiol oil and other supplements increases, it is important to know that these simple lifestyle interventions such as exercise can modulate endocannabinoids,” Vijay added.