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    Brain on Love: The Hidden Chemicals that Connect Us

    Brain on Love: The Hidden Chemicals that Connect Us

    Ah, Valentine’s Day. We exchange cards, gift flowers and toast to love. Love is one of the

    most universal and consuming of human emotions. For centuries we have sung about it,

    created paintings and plays about it, and last weekend, we celebrated it. As social animals,

    we have a human instinct to seek and build love. Love not only inspires and motivates us,

    but it also has a big impact on our brains and bodies.


    Significant research has been done in the last few years to uncover the science behind

    what happens when you fall in love and what happens to your brain years into a secure

    relationship. Helen Fisher is a biological anthropologist who studies love and addiction.

    According to her research, a cocktail of chemicals are released in your brain at different

    stages of love, triggering attraction, motivation and attachment. Below outlines the different

    chemicals and their role in love and how they affect your overall health.



    Dopamine is the main chemical released when we fall in love. It plays a role in

    our reward systems, triggering goal oriented behavior. Dopamine helps

    individuals feel excited and energetic about the relationship. While it is the same

    chemical released in both gambling and drug use, it’s also present in both early

    and long term romantic love.



    The second ingredient in the love cocktail is norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a

    stress hormone that plays a role in that “can’t eat, can’t talk”, nervous feeling

    that you get when you are first falling in love. You can thank this chemical for all

    the nervous twitches, sweaty palms and fumbling – everything that basically

    works against you looking cool and confident, and gives you butterflies in the

    stomach and flushed cheeks instead.



    The good news is, the awkward stage doesn’t last forever. While the chemicals

    released in the early stages of love have no proven health benefits, oxytocin has

    been linked to a variety of health benefits. Longer, secure love releases

    oxytocin, a chemical that bonds couples together, and promotes long term



    But if you are thinking that oxytocin is only present in romantic love – think

    again. Oxytocin levels rise in people with close friendships and close family

    members. It also surges in new moms, as they feed and bond with their new

    baby. Basically, oxytocin increases with human touch: hugging, cuddling, holding

    hands, kissing and touching. Physical affection between loved ones can help the

    brain, heart and other regulatory systems.


    Health benefits of secure love

    • Fewer doctors visits
    • Less depression and alcohol abuse
    • Lower blood pressure
    • Less anxiety
    • Natural pain control
    • Better stress management
    • Fewer colds
    • Faster healing
    • Longer and happier life.


    However, if you need a boost, experts suggest giving and receiving daily hugs, plus following the tips below to get all the health benefits of love and the associated love chemicals.


    How to increase these levels:

    • Foster relationships
    • If depressed, get treatment
    • Work on communication skills
    • Participate in challenging and exciting events with loved ones
    • Celebrate successes




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