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Endorphins are endogenous opioid polypeptide compounds. Endorphins are neurotransmitters, chemicals which are directly involved in the brain’s electrochemical workings. They are produced by the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus in vertebrates during strenuous exercise, excitement, pain, consumption of spicy food and orgasm, and they resemble the opiates in their abilities to produce analgesia and a feeling of well-being. According to some reports, laughter releases endorphins in the brain, and long-distance runners also refer to this state as “runner’s high.” Strenuous exercise takes a person over a threshold that activates endorphin production. Endorphins regulate feelings of hunger and are connected to the production of sex hormones.

The euphoria described by people who engage in BDSM is attributed to endorphins too. One theory of why some people find BDSM activities pleasurable is that these activities stimulate endorphins in a controlled way. In 1999, clinical researchers reported that inserting the acupuncture needles into specific body points triggers the production of endorphins. Endorphins regulate feelings of pain – they work as “natural pain killers”. From the BDSM point of view endorphins are naturally-occurring opiate-like chemicals produced in the brain in response to pain, which block pain and can produce an euphoric sensation. High endorphin levels cause a feeling of euphoria.

Endorphins were first discovered in 1975 by John Hughes and Hans Kosterlitz in the brain of a pig. How endorphins work is not fully understood. What is sure is that endorphins bind to the opioid receptors in the brain. They disinhibit the dopamine pathways, causing more dopamine to be released into the synapses. The term “endorphin” consists of two parts: endo- and -orphin; these are short forms of the words endogenous and morphine, intended to mean “a morphine-like substance originating from within the body.”

The term “endorphin rush” has been adopted in popular speech to refer to feelings of exhilaration brought on by pain, danger, or other forms of stress, supposedly due to the influence of endorphins. When a nerve impulse reaches the spinal cord, endorphins are released which prevent nerve cells from releasing more pain signals. Immediately after injury, endorphins allow humans to feel a sense of power and control over themselves that allows them to persist with activity for an extended time. BDSM activities, especially those incorporating a degree of sensation play often cultivate the endorphin rush as part of their “payoff” to the sub. But also see aftercare for the care needed to ensure that subdrop does not occur afterwards as the body returns to normal.

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The sensitive, careful and methodical application of pain can move the pain threshold higher, enabling the bottom to tolerate higher levels of pain, thereby receiving the benefits of higher endorphin levels. To the bottom, the pain will not seem to increase, even though the physical trauma upon the body does. This is because as endorphin levels rise, the pain becomes deadened.

Attention! The fact that the pain is deadened must never make you lose sight of the physical trauma you are causing. Don’t abuse your responsibility for your bottom’s safety just because the euphoria of a endorphin rush makes your bottom a little giddy.

In order to stimulate the release of endorphins, the top should gradually increase the pain level until it nears the pain threshold. After reaching the threshold, lower the intensity and allow the endorphins which the pain released to work their magic, nullifying the pain. When the top once again begins to increase the pain, the endorphins which the previous cycle released allow the bottom to tolerate a higher level of pain. The now higher level of pain releases even more endorphins, and the cycle begins again. Remember that it takes the body about ten minutes to generate the chemicals for another one. You must continue stimulating the body for at least ten minutes in some manner (light flogging for example) before the body will be ready to release another portion of endorphins.

Patience is a virtue here. There are several difficulties you may run into. They can discourage you, but don’t let them! Keep them in mind, watch for them, and when they occur, alter your technique until you find that unique formula that works for you and your bottom. Sometimes subtle changes in technique can produce dramatic results.

Sometimes the pain threshold will hit a plateau, refusing to rise further. If this happens, a complete break in activity for a few moments, a few minutes or longer might be in order. Every bottom has a certain point beyond which even the best technique cannot take them. This point can vary from day to day. Just because the bottom hit a new high yesterday doesn’t mean he or she will hit it again today. If you try every technique you can think of to get beyond the plateau, but to no avail, it’s just not the right day. Accept what comes.

Another common problem is hypersensitivity, which causes the pain threshold to drop dramatically. Those of you who have had large tattoos done know how it works. You are playing, having a great time – the bottom is on a major endorphin high and you’re loving it. Suddenly the bottom safes out. You take a break and then get back into it, but after the break even love taps are too painful. What went wrong?

Hypersensitivity seems to happen most often when you have been pushing too far, too fast. Playing right around the threshold is physically and mentally stressful, and too much of it will wear the bottom out. Make sure when you bring him or her back down, you leave plenty of time for rest.

Endorphin highs are a great reward, but they take hard work. If you are not successful after a few attempts, don’t give up. Even an experienced player takes time to learn a new bottom, and as a novice you have to learn the bottom while learning the technique. Just work slowly, stay determined, and look for small signs of success. These small successes will tell you what works for the bottom. Eventually, with patience, you will get it.



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