Is There Really a Love Hormone?

01/23/2012

Love hormone 2photoWhat makes us love and what makes us act for others? More specifically, is there really a love potion, a Love Potion #9 of sorts? Oxytocin, the hormone in the body that builds mother-baby bonds, is being called just that--the love hormone. 

A new study by a Duke University research team is proving that administering this love hormone to macaque monkeys makes them pay more attention to each other and give a squirt of juice to the other monkey, even if they don’t get one themselves. 

"The inhaled oxytocin enhanced 'prosocial' choices by the monkeys, perhaps by making them pay more attention to the other individual," neuroscientist Michael Platt, who headed the study and is director of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences said to Science Daily. "If that's true, it's really cool, because it suggests that oxytocin breaks down normal social barriers."

Researchers also noticed the macaque’s eye movements after the oxytocin was administered via small nebulizer. The monkeys looked into each other’s eyes for long periods of time.

Science Daily reports:

The hormone is currently being evaluated as a therapy for autism, schizophrenia and other disorders that are marked by an apparent lack of interest or caring about others, Platt said. It seems to give patients increased trust and better social skills, but not much is known about how that process works, or whether the effects would be consistent over the long term.

Love hormone photo

Photo: Thinkstock

Even without this love hormone of sorts, it’s also known that those that are more social and less selfish are also happier. The WSJ Health Blog published a video on the spirit of giving that shed some light on the subject. Stephen G. Post wrote The Hidden Gifts of Helping, which highlighted how generosity produced a number of both physical and mental benefits. Giving didn’t have to be in the form of a gift, it could be helping your fellow man or giving to charities. 

Photo: Photodisc

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More on Love
Love & Relationships 
Why do we fall in love? 
Is it love or lust? 
Marathon Love 


Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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