Wednesday, 17 November 2021
Exercise increases the body’s own cannabis-like substances, which in turn helps reduce inflammation and could potentially help treat certain conditions such as arthritis, cancer and heart disease.
In a new study, published in Gut Microbes, experts from the University of Nottingham found that exercise intervention in people with arthritis, did not just reduce their pain, but it also lowered the levels of inflammatory substances (called cytokines). It also increased levels of cannabis-like substances produced by their own bodies, called endocannabinoids. Interestingly, the way exercise resulted in these changes was by altering the gut microbes.
Exercise is known to decrease chronic inflammation, which in turn causes many diseases including cancer, arthritis and heart disease, but little is known as to how it reduces inflammation.
A group of scientists, led by Professor Ana Valdes from the School of Medicine at the University, tested 78 people with arthritis. Thirty-eight of them carried out 15 minutes of muscle strengthening exercises every day for six weeks, and 40 did nothing.
At 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 guts of the kind that produce anti-inflammatory substances, lower levels of cytokines and higher levels of endocannabinoids.
The increase in endocannabinoids was strongly linked to changes in the gut microbes and anti-inflammatory substances produced by gut microbes called SCFAS. In fact, at least one third of the anti-inflammatory effects of the gut microbiome was due to the increase in endocannabinoids.
Our study clearly shows that exercise increases the body’s own cannabis-type substances. Which can have a positive impact on many conditions. As interest in cannabidiol oil and other supplements increases, it is important to know that simple lifestyle interventions like exercise can modulate endocannabinoids.”
The full study can be found here.
More information is available from Professor Ana Valdes from the School of Medicine at firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to editors:
About the University of Nottingham
Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.
Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.
The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.
The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.
We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.