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Define Endorphins - what are endorphins?

These are one of a group of chemical compounds that occur naturally in the brain and have pain-relieving properties similar to those of the opiates.   

In fact the endorphins are literally “endogenous morphine”, (intended to mean a morphine-like substance originating from within the body”.

The term opiate is used to describe drugs derived from the juice of the poppy.  The word opioid describes all substances with morphine-like actions.  The word narcotic is no longer used in pharmacology, although originally it described drugs that induced sleep and was later applied to morphine-like analgesics.  The endorphins are derived from a substance found in the pituitary gland called beta-lopotropin; they are thought to be concerned with controlling the activity of the endocrine glands. 

They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during strenuous exercise, excitement and orgasm.  Endorphins have passed into popular consciousness through the term “endorphin rush” which is used to describe the feeling of exhilaration brought on by forms of stress, including that stress brought on by exertion (such as running). It is also used to refer to the capacity of the body to cope positively with pain or danger (such as might occur in the battlefield). 

This is not a medical term however, and it does not occur in the medical literature.  The study of endorphins is a rapidly expanding field of research and has given rise to a confusing terminology. 

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