Endorphins are neurotransmitters — brain chemicals that transmit signals throughout the nervous system. They play a key role in nervous system function and are produced in reaction to stimuli like pain, fear, and stress. Endorphins originate in the pituitary gland, spinal cord, and other parts of the nervous system. They can either promote or suppress the passing of signals from one neuron to the next.
Endorphins are associated with pain and pleasure. Research shows they can relieve pain better than morphine and are released during states of pleasure brought on by laughter, sex, love, and good food. Endorphins are also responsible for the euphoric feeling sometimes reached during exercise, commonly known as a runner's high.
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