Oxytocin – The love drug

The month of love is upon us, in case you managed to escape the yearly advertising boom. With only six days to go, the shops are brimming with the tackiest of confectionary and tasteless trinkets. Stick your nose out and you may just get a whiff of oxytocin in the air.

The sceptical of us would render Valentine’s day a farce, its function to induce a hysteria of spending. The fuelling of Clintons through the post-Christmas depression. And they would be right. Love, or the ‘drug of love’ Oxytocin, is inextricably linked to your happiness, the economy and prosperity.

Oxytocin is a hormone best known for its functions to induce birth, bonding and lactation in new mothers of the Mammalia class. Conversely, like with all biochemicals, it is found to be involved in many other areas including orgasm, morality and ‘romantic chemistry’. Oxytocin’s functions are as widespread as its tile suggests.

 Love is a very general term. Its vernacular use has left the word a semantic satiation and a heavily diluted one at that. Its nuances may describe an array of emotions from the platonic to the romantic, and is exacerbated by its contemporary function to define the slightest element of enjoyment or admiration. Oxytocin is the drug of
connection. Its base line level is near zero in the human body; however it shows clear and definitive peaks in experiments of trustworthiness, affection and philanthropy.

An embracing hug will spike both your oxytocin and improve trust, security and calmness. However, the effect is only short lived as oxytocin has a half-life of 3 minutes in the blood. Social gatherings are able to maintain a higher concentration of the chemical. A wedding, primarily focused on the bride, will see her have the highest concentration of the hormone. The communal gathering produces a surge of oxytocin in all participants, increasing social bonding and social investment.

Paul Zak, a neuro-economist, documented that the wealth of a nation may be measured on the trustworthiness of its citizens. The higher the count, the more trustworthy the citizens, the greater the number of economic transactions occurring and the more prosperous and wealthy a nation becomes.

So if you’re lucky enough to have a date this Valentines or simply single with friends, your corner shop roses, cava and chocolates may not only find you a mate but may get us out of this double dip recession.

Henry Beach

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