by Dr. Will Cole
Love is intoxicating, addictive, and….good for your health? Yes indeed! Many studies have shown that people who are in enriching, loving relationships tend to live longer, healthier lives. But what is the science behind the health benefits of love?
Primal urge hormones
First (and perhaps most obvious), healthy testosterone and estrogen levels can help spark that initial attraction and trigger the primal hunt for a mate. It is no wonder that for both men and women, low testosterone or imbalances of the estrogen isomers E1, E2, and E3 are common culprits in low sex drives, among other health problems.
Your heart beats faster, your cheeks flush, and you break out in a cold sweat. Either you’re being chased by a bear, or you’re falling in love. That feeling is due to adrenaline and cortisol, when your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis gets activated. When you get “turned on,” so does your brain-adrenal communication, flooding your body with these hormones of intensity. Your brain releases dopamine – your pleasure hormone – when you are in love triggering an intense rush of pleasure. Dopamine has much the same effect on the brain as cocaine! The euphoria felt from this neurotransmitter is why new love can feel so addictive.
Another reason is that the peaceful neurotransmitter, serotonin, actually gets lower when you are newly in love, and this dip in serotonin is almost identical to what people experience who have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). About a year into the relationship, serotonin starts to rise again and you start to feel less obsessed and calmer (this is also when you start to notice all their annoying habits!)
You know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you’re in love? Like you just want to be with that person all the time? Thank oxytocin for that. Oxytocin, released by your brain’s pituitary gland, is the powerful hormone that surges during orgasm. This was one of the main biological reasons why sex is a bonding experience for couples.
Studies have even shown that the rush of this hormone actually increases monogamy in couples! Oxytocin also gives you that “butterflies in your stomach” feeling when you are with your amore, another highlight of the gut-brain connection and more evidence for why your gut really is your “second brain.”
How to fire up your love hormones in three steps:
Want to get some of that loving feeling? Here are some tips to enhance that good love:
1. Fire up your sex hormones
Try hormone-balancing adaptogens such as shilajit and ho shou wu, to wake up the sleepiest of sexy-time hormones. You and your love bunny can make delicious adaptogenic elixirs to try together!
2. Take your secret love potion
Another adaptogen called mucuna pruriens is rich in L-DOPA, a precursor the the love drug hormone dopamine. I sprinkle a little bit into my tea every day.
3. Reconnect physically
Simply connecting with your partner, emotionally and physically, increases oxytocin, dopamine, and adrenaline. As relationships mature, it gets easier to take love for granted, but you can keep the fire burning by:
- Holding hands intentionally
- Kissing a little longer
- Being thoughtful
- Speaking words of affirmation to each other
- Showing love in new, creative ways
Fascinating, isn’t it? Whether you’re healing from a broken heart, feeling self-love, friend-love, or romantic love, now you know the biochemistry behind those loving feelings, and how to nurture them for an even greater love connection.
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