Yes! Who would have thought? By giving eight hugs a day, you are improving your health!
The healing hormone responsible for this is oxytocin, also known as the “bonding hormone”. By physically touching someone you care about, such as giving a hug, the levels of oxytocin made by your brain, markedly rise. This causes you – and the person you hugged – to feel calm, happier and more connected as well as producing other health benefits.
Oxytocin has long been known as the “pair bonding” hormone and the “cuddle” hormone for its effect on stable monogamous relationships. As an Ob/Gyn, I have been very familiar with the role of oxytocin in childbirth, allowing for uterine contractions and the birth of a baby, as well as breast-feeding with milk “let-down”.
Initial research in early 1990’s found that breastfeeding women tended to have lower blood pressure. Lactation is a time when huge amounts of oxytocin are released from the brain to the breast tissue allowing milk to flow. The connection between decreased blood pressure and oxytocin then led to further investigation into its breadth and healing power. Oxytocin receptors have now been identified in other tissues, including the heart, kidney, thymus, and pancreas.
New exciting research has shown that oxytocin can play a powerful role in protecting your heart. By touching another person, oxytocin is produced in your heart and travels throughout your blood vessels dilating them through a mechanism of increased nitric oxide. ( Not nitrous oxide, which is laughing gas!) Nitric oxide dilates our blood vessels, leading to a decrease in blood pressure, less inflammation and less plaque build-up. Excess chronic inflammation is the key player in plaque buildup in our arteries, known as atherosclerosis. Oxytocin has been shown to reduce free radical formation and other inflammatory markers decreasing the risk for heart attack.
For more information on the health benefits of oxytocin, and to join the conversation and share YOUR ideas, join me here: www.ListenToYourLibido.com