Love, in all of its forms, is on the minds of many during the month of February, thanks in large part Valentine’s Day.
For centuries, poets have espoused the virtues of love while songwriters often look to love and heartache as their subject matter. It’s easy to overlook that the heart and the brain are parts of the body when considering the effects of being in love. While a large part of the reactions that occur are emotional in nature, experiencing love also has a profound physical effect on the body. Scientists have studied chemicals that flood the brain when love is in the air, noting that some can affect personal attachment, pleasure and well-being. So there are reasons why pulses race and palms sweat when people feel love. Here are some chemical players in the love equation.
· Dopamine: The medical resource Health says dopamine is the brain’s pleasure chemical and it is released during pleasurable activities. When one experiences love, they feel elated and energetic because of the release of dopamine. Biological anthropologists say that the release of dopamine can lead to intense focus and influence goal-oriented behavior.
· Adrenaline & norepinephrine: These chemical messengers cause anxiety to rise and the fight or flight response to kick in. These substances also contribute to a racing heart and sweaty hands. Butterflies in the stomach and nervousness are subtle clues that one is feeling excitement.
· Oxytocin: Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone,” according to University of Birmingham researchers. Oxytocin, researchers found, produces some of the same symptoms of indulging in alcohol. These include feeling less inhibited, an increased willingness to take risks, and calmness. Oxytocin also helps people bond by promoting intimacy, according to research associates at Rutgers University.
Love can have a dramatic impact on the human body, and chemicals play a larger role than many may know.
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