When the person you love hugs you tight or holds your hand, your body releases a hormone. It bonds you to your partner and helps you stay deeply in love.
Some people call it the cuddle hormone.
I call it the “love drug.”
Holding hands with the one you love has been proven to reduce pain
I’m talking about oxytocin. And now, breakthrough research found that it does even more than build loving relationships.
It can actually ease your physical pain.
Let me explain…
Researchers at the University of Colorado tested the brain waves of 22 couples who had been in a romantic relationship for at least a year.
They measured each couple’s brain wave activity in three different situations.
First, the couples sat in separate rooms. Then they sat next to each other but didn’t touch. Finally, the couples sat together while holding hands.
Then they repeated each scenario. But this time the researchers subjected the women in the study to a painful heat stimulus on her arm for two minutes.
What they found was amazing…
When the couples sat together, even if they didn’t touch, their brain waves became synchronized. Their breathing and heart rates also fell into a similar pattern.
It’s a phenomenon known as “interpersonal synchronization.”
But when one of the partners was in pain, the waves stopped synching up.
Until they started holding hands… At that point, their synchronization shot up to its highest level. And the women felt far less pain.1
In other words, when you hold the hand of a loved one in pain, your breathing, heart rate and brain waves will sync up. And their pain goes down.
I’ve written to you about the healing benefits of oxytocin before. It helps mothers bond with their babies.
And it’s the hormone that’s released during an orgasm. It connects you to your partner. Just six seconds of hugging is enough to release it…
Studies show oxytocin helps you stay deeply in love and have more satisfying sex. It makes you like people more. It helps you form deep connections with friends and even your pets.
In short, people who release more oxytocin find greater satisfaction and happiness with life. They have better romantic relationships, more friendships, greater trust and more sex.
You were born with high levels of oxytocin. But your supply of this happiness hormone starts to decline with age. A satisfying love life is a great way to boost levels. But it’s not the only way.
You can teach your body to produce more oxytocin naturally. Besides holding hands with your partner, a massage is the perfect way to increase this important hormone.
A study in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine proved it. Researchers measured oxytocin levels in 95 subjects before and after a 15-minute massage. Oxytocin increased by 17% for the group that received massage. A control group who just rested showed a 9% decrease in oxytocin.2
Boost Your “Love Drug” with Ayurvedic Massage
You can also increase oxytocin by giving yourself a daily 10-minute massage. In America, people sometimes feel self-conscious giving themselves a massage. But when I was in India studying at the oldest existing school of Ayurvedic medicine, I learned that it’s a normal part of your daily routine.
In Ayurvedic medicine this practice is called abhyanga. Here’s how to do it:
- Start with a high-quality sesame massage oil. Add a few drops of lavender or other essential oil if you like. Heat ¼ cup of the oil to slightly above body temperature.
- Place a small amount of oil on your fingertips and in your palms. Starting with your head, massage your scalp vigorously. Move on to your face, ears, neck and upper spine.
- Next massage your arms using long strokes the length of your long bones and a circular motion over your joints. Don’t forget your hands and fingers.
- Apply oil to your chest and abdomen in a gentle circular motion. Massage your back and spine as far as you can reach.
- Move on to your legs with the same long strokes you used on your arms and circular motions over your joints. Don’t forget your feet, especially the soles.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
1. Goldstein P., et al. “Brain-to-brain coupling during handholding is associated with pain reduction.” PNAS. February 26, 2018.
2. Morhenn V, Beavin LE, Zak PJ. “Massage increases oxytocin and reduces adrenocorticotropin hormone in humans.” Altern Ther Health Med. 2012;18(6):11-8.