Tags: romantic love | nature's painkiller | intense romance and pain | love stimulates pain centers of brain | love and addiction | love and pain relief

Romantic Love: Nature’s Painkiller?

Monday, 18 October 2010 08:15 AM

Falling in love may be a natural painkiller, say researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine. An intense romance doesn’t squelch pain just because a person’s thoughts are distracted by thoughts of their love, but the wildly intense “head-over-heels” feeling of falling in love stimulates the same centers of the brain as cocaine, reports HealthDay.

"These pain-relieving systems are linked to reward systems," said Dr. Sean Mackey, senior author of a paper appearing online Oct. 13 in PLoS One., and chief of Stanford’s pain management division. "Love engages these deep brain systems that are involved with reward and craving and similar systems involved in addiction."

The study included 15 undergraduates who were madly in love and in the early stages of their relationship. Researchers showed them a photo of their loved one while causing pain with a thermal probe. As a control, they were also asked to name sports that didn’t involve a ball while also being subjected to pain from the probe.

"To our pleasant surprise, both love and distraction reduce pain to an equal amount and that was good because it more fully allowed us to compare them," Mackey explained.

MRIs revealed that while both thinking of their beloved and being distracted offered pain relief, different parts of the brain were involved.

"In distraction, there was a much higher level of the newer cortical systems involved with classic attention and distraction," Mackey said. On the other hand, "in love, very primitive, reptilian brain systems that are classically involved with the reward systems that motivate our basic drives were involved," he said.

To read the complete HealthDay story — Go Here Now.

© HealthDay

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Falling in love may be a natural painkiller, say researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine.
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Monday, 18 October 2010 08:15 AM
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