Falling in love can be exciting and euphoric, but new research has revealed that it also comes with a surprising number of health benefits.
While the thrill of romance can put a spring in your step and make you feel like you’re on top of the world, sharing romantic moments with a partner has been linked to lower blood pressure, decreased sensitivity to allergens, and even an improved ability to fight infections.
According to a report by the Daily Mail, the root of these health benefits has to do with the chemicals released in our brain that influence our emotions.
When you fall in love, your brain releases more feel-good chemicals like dopamine and oxytocin, also called the cuddle hormone. This release in turn helps reduce anxiety and induces feelings of trust between you and your partner.
As these warm and fuzzy feelings flood the brain and lower defenses, it can actually lower blood pressure, according to the research published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine found.
Just hugging a loved one is enough to release oxytocin and lower blood pressure, and researchers from the University of California found that people who are regularly hugged are less anxious and depressed.
Several studies found that kissing lowered cholesterol and so falling in love has many benefits for cardiovascular health.
The same chemicals that regulate the reward and pleasure centers in the brain may also help increase your tolerance to pain, according to researchers from Stanford University.
In a 2010 study, participants were asked to look at a picture of their loved one or a picture of an acquaintance.
While looking at the pictures, the researchers touched the participants with a hot probe, and there was a 40 percent decrease in pain levels when the participants were looking at a picture of a loved one.
This is because dopamine also releases natural painkillers and the study shows that looking at a photo is enough to increase the production of dopamine.
Dopamine is also connected to the body’s immune and nervous systems, and another study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology found that being in love can be useful in fighting off infections.
50 women were asked to participate in the two-year study, and the research shows that the women in love had higher concentrations of anti-virals in their DNA.
The chemicals in our brain that regulate emotions, pleasure, and reward have been the subject of many studies. These chemicals and hormones are major driving factors in addiction, and many mental health disorders can be traced back to chemical imbalances in the brain.
Dopamine, oxytocin, endorphins, and serotonin all help influence our emotions and happiness and being in love can increase production of these chemicals, which not only makes us feel good but also helps improve our health and wellbeing.
By Kay Vandette, Earth.com Staff Writer