Saturday, February 19, 2005

In the future, we will purchase love in the drug store. In multiple flavors:

Your Brain's Love Cocktails
Is the love buzz just a chemical reaction? Recent science has proven that the answer is 'yes,' and one neurochemical is mainly responsible. Professor Robert Friar, of Ferris State University in Michigan, explains:
"Falling in love involves Phenylethylamine or PEA, which causes a person to be less likley to be aware of the faults of the other person. Phenylethylamine gives us that euphoric high. That feel good. Everything is wonderful. This person can do no wrong. We've often times seen people who fall in love with somebody and ask 'are you blind?' Well, yes they really are blind. And almost no one can tell them at that stage of the game because Phenylethylamine is pouring out in large quantities. And of course we can't sustain that level of Phenylethylamine for a long period of time, so it begins to drop after a couple years. As it slowly drops off it gets to the point at about four or five years that it actually becomes ineffective after that. When we meet someone to whom we are sexually attracted, our bodies respond by releasing neurochemicals that can leave us sputtering, incoherent and breathless. Our body is a huge cocktail, a mix of chemicals that speed up our heart rate, give us sweaty palms, make our cheeks flush and turn us into lovesick fools. The chemicals responsible for love are all originally released in the brain and have an effect throughout the whole body. The base spirit is the PEA, and as it is more commonly known, the 'love chemical.' Its effect on our mood is similar to that caused by amphetamines."

The Chemicals that Help You Stay in Love

Do only the newly in love get special chemicals and potions to help them along? Surely long-term relationships merit their own biological and chemical "brews" to see them through those long winter nights?
Science has revealed that as you move from the magic of first passion to the mystery of a long term attachment, different chemicals do come into play and cause us to feel a completely different wave of emotion.
"It is not that the fire goes out, it is still there but it's more of a warm and dependable feeling." That's how Nisa—a woman from Botswana—describes the change. American Anthropologist Marjorie Shostak spent many years studying Nisa and her culture and wrote about it all in a book simply titled Nisa. And what seems to play an important role in causing this emotional change is a chemical that is released in our brain called oxytocin. This chemical has long been known to be released in women when they are breastfeeding. What was not realized fully is that this chemical also plays a crucial role in binding couples emotionally, making them feel together as a couple. As a result, it has been nicknamed the 'cuddling hormone'. It is released in small quantities when you just spend time with your partner. And a surge of it is released into our bloodstream when we climax.

Professor Robert Friar of Ferris State University in Michigan explains it a bit more:
"Interestingly, we recently learned that oxytocin is also released whenever persons are engaged in sexual intercourse, that then tends to cause bonding between the two persons."

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