Ben­e­fits of the love hor­mone

> Re­searchers found that oxy­tocin could in­flu­ence us to be more spir­i­tual and pro­mote pos­i­tive emo­tions

The Sun (Malaysia) - - LIFESTYLE -

RE­SEARCHERS in the US set out to in­ves­ti­gate fac­tors that could en­hance the proven ben­e­fits of med­i­ta­tion on gen­eral health and well­be­ing.

They dis­cov­ered that oxy­tocin – the so-called ‘love hor­mone’ – could pro­mote pos­i­tive emo­tions linked to spir­i­tu­al­ity, such as grat­i­tude and hope.

From the magic of fall­ing in love to the se­cu­rity of a re­la­tion­ship or our at­tach­ment to our chil­dren, oxy­tocin – a hor­mone pro­duced nat­u­rally by the body – is work­ing its magic be­hind the scenes.

Pro­duced by the brain in the hy­po­thal­a­mus, oxy­tocin also plays a role in child­birth, breast­feed­ing and sex­ual re­pro­duc­tion.

Re­cent re­search has high­lighted the po­ten­tial role of oxy­tocin in pro­mot­ing em­pa­thy, trust, so­cial bond­ing and al­tru­ism.

In light of this, re­searchers from Duke Uni­ver­sity tested how oxy­tocin might in­flu­ence spir­i­tu­al­ity by giv­ing doses of the hor­mone to one group of men and a placebo to an­other.

They found that men who were given oxy­tocin were more likely to say that spir­i­tu­al­ity was im­por­tant in their lives.

To these men, life has mean­ing and pur­pose, and they also felt more con­nected to oth­ers.

On the ba­sis of a ques­tion­naire, these men were more likely to give higher rat­ings to state­ments such as ‘all life is in­ter­con­nected’ and ‘there is a higher plane of con­scious­ness or spir­i­tu­al­ity that binds all peo­ple’.

Af­ter a med­i­ta­tion ses­sion, the ‘oxy­tocin group’ reported ex­pe­ri­enc­ing more pos­i­tive emo­tions dur­ing med­i­ta­tion, in­clud­ing awe, grat­i­tude, hope, in­spi­ra­tion, in­ter­est, love and seren­ity.

The re­searchers also found that oxy­tocin didn’t af­fect all par­tic­i­pants in the same way.

The hor­mone’s ef­fect on spir­i­tu­al­ity was stronger among peo­ple with a par­tic­u­lar vari­ant of the CD38 gene, a gene that reg­u­lates the re­lease of oxy­tocin in the brain.

“Spir­i­tu­al­ity is com­plex and af­fected by many fac­tors,” said the study’s author, Dr Van Cap­pellen.

“How­ever, oxy­tocin does seem to af­fect how we per­ceive the world and what we be­lieve.” – AFP-Re­laxnews

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