Get a DOSE of Happy Chemicals: How to Tap Into Your Natural Internal Pharmacy

Andrew Siegel MD  12/25/2021 Merry Christmas!

Today’s entry reviews four mood-regulating neurotransmitter/hormones that are the “happy chemicals” within our body.  Each chemical has unique properties and together these four — dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins — referred to as DOSE, can provide a natural high and feeling of wellbeing. Learn how to tap into the pharmacy within your own body to get your daily DOSE.  Read on.

Image by Denise Husted from Pixabay 

Dopamine: Neurotransmitter manufactured in the brain with its release triggered by happy experiences and activities.  Dopamine creates pleasurable feelings and rewarding effects including euphoria, bliss and enhanced motivation and concentration.  Many addictive drugs increase dopamine levels. 
Dopamine is used therapeutically for its effect on stimulating the sympathetic nervous system. It is used in emergency situations to increase blood pressure in certain types of circulatory shock and to treat symptomatic slow heart rate that has not responded to other measures. Medications that increase dopamine levels are used to help manage Parkinson’s disease, restless leg syndrome, and for high levels of serum prolactin caused by benign pituitary growths.

Oxytocin: Neurotransmitter/hormone manufactured in the brain with its release triggered by childbirth, breast feeding, bonding behavior (hugging, kissing and cuddling), social interaction, and sexual activity.  It plays a vital role in lactation, maternal behavior, social bonding, and sexual pleasure. It can give rise to euphoria, bliss and can enhance concentration and motivation.

Oxytocin is used therapeutically to induce or strengthen uterine contractions and to control uterine bleeding after a delivery. 

Serotonin: Neurotransmitter manufactured in the digestive tract and brain with complex functions including regulation of mood, emotions, wellbeing, happiness, thought processes, reward, learning and memory.  It has numerous physiological effects, including effects on bowel control, nausea, sleep, blood clotting, bone health, and sexual function.  In men, serotonin provides the chemical control of ejaculation.

The SSRI (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) class of medication increases serotonin levels and is used therapeutically for depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and premature ejaculation.

Endorphins: “Endorphin” is a portmanteau derived from “endogenous,” meaning from inside the body and “morphine,” an opioid pain reliever. Endorphins are opioid neurotransmitter/hormones manufactured in the brain with their release triggered by engagement in happy activities. It acts on opioid receptors and increases pleasure and wellbeing and may induce euphoria as well as reduce pain and stress.  Endorphin release is the presumptive basis for the “runner’s high” that may be achieved after exercise. 

There are many ways to get your daily DOSE of happy chemicals. The key is to figure out which unique activities–many of which are not on the list–are capable of releasing your DOSE chemicals.

Ways to Get Your Daily DOSE of Happy Chemicals

  1. Enjoy a delicious meal
  2. Eat dark chocolate
  3. Listen to music
  4. Hug someone
  5. Spend time with loved ones
  6. Laugh with friends
  7. Have sex
  8. Spend time in the sun
  9. Enjoy nature
  10. Watch a sunrise or sunset
  11. Meditation, yoga, hot baths, aromatherapy, massage, etc.
  12. Exercise
  13. Play with your pet
  14. Enjoy a fresh bouquet of flowers

Try to do some of these activities at the same time to really get your DOSE!

Wishing you the best of health and a happy holiday and New Year,

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Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro AreaInside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community. He is a urologist at New Jersey Urology, the largest urology practice in the United States.  He is the co-founder of PelvicRx and Private Gym.  His latest book is Prostate Cancer 20/20: A Practical Guide to Understanding Management Options for Patients and Their Families. 

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Video trailer for Prostate Cancer 20/20

Preview of Prostate Cancer 20/20

Andrew Siegel MD Amazon author page

PROSTATE CANCER 20/20 is now available at Audible, iTunes and Amazon as an audiobook read by the author (just over 6 hours). 

Dr. Siegel’s other books:

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual, and Urinary Health


MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health

PROMISCUOUS EATING— Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

FINDING YOUR OWN FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness and Longevity

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3 Responses to “Get a DOSE of Happy Chemicals: How to Tap Into Your Natural Internal Pharmacy”

  1. The Super Power of Walking | Our Greatest Wealth Is Health Says:

    […] and enables more creative thinking. It helps tap into the pharmacy within, releasing a cocktail of happy chemicals. It sharpens one’s senses and makes one feel […]

  2. Nurturing Placebo While Downplaying Nocebo: The Art of Medicine | Our Greatest Wealth Is Health Says:

    […] that blocks endorphins.  The placebo effect may also elicit the release of other endogenous “happy” chemicals – dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin — that help provide the biochemical basis of positive […]

  3. I’m Talking “Walking” | Our Greatest Wealth Is Health Says:

    […] Taps into the internal pharmacy, releasing a cocktail of happy chemicals. […]

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