Oh oh catch that buzz
Love is the drug I'm thinkin' of
Oh oh can't you see
Love is the drug got a hook in me...
(Roxy Music, Love is the Drug
Love is the drug, created in your very own laboratory.
Do you have raw chemistry with your Valentine? Then that is literally true. Those loving feelings are whipped up by your inner cerebral whizz kid.
When that geeky soul blithely releases PEA, norepinephrine, dopamine, oxytocin and testosterone
into your bloodstream, sweaty palms, butterflies, elation, a pounding heart and smoochy sensations ensue, as does the unbridled lust that bellows, 'Hop. In. Sack. With. Hottie. Now!'
Not content with turning you upside down, your inner nerd also produces endorphins
or 'inner morphine' - our home-grown opiates. These neurotransmitters are found in the pituitary gland and other parts of the brain and nervous system. Known on the street as the stuff that creates 'runner's high', endorphins affect mind and body in myriad ways and play a starring role in the dance of sex and long-term love.
Ever wondered why - 18 months to four years into a relationship - your star-crossed honeymoon with the one who used to turn you inside out is suddenly over? Because your brain has become tolerant to the heady love drugs of the early days. Meanwhile, the effects of endorphin release are becoming more apparent.
Our inner opiates are linked to feelings of comfort, security and attachment. They smooth the bumps of everyday life and nurture stable relationships once the magical era of falling in love has faded. They also help calm anxiety, relieve depression, reduce stress, and soothe pain in a manner similar to codeine and morphine.
In many ways, endorphins are allied to strength: strong calm minds and strong supple bodies. Endorphin secretion leads to euphoric feelings, appetite modulation, sex hormone release and enhanced immune response. The rewarding prospect of an endorphin high favours behaviours that benefit body and mind.
Stress and pain release our inner opiates but so do meditation, massage, gentle touch, acupuncture, bodybuilding, running, and other forms of strenuous physical activity, like getting hot and heavy, or the arduous task of munching chocolate.
One delightfully potent endorphin trigger is sex
. Lovemaking, orgasm and laughter get endorphins flowing - a preferred prescription for Valentine's night, mayhap, than pounding the pavements or sticking your lover with traditional Chinese needles.
Thanks to one of Ma Nature's kinder feedback loops, throwing shapes, lifting weights, being pinned to a plinth, having a mmmmassage or quietly OM-ing can add sparkle to your love life by reducing stress and promoting endurance, flexibility, and the production of hormones and neurotransmitters. So it's a win-win, whether you love to love
or love to dance!
Certain foods trigger endorphins, too. Stress-busting choccie
and hot chilli peppers - the hotter the better - enjoy top billing. If you're telling St Valentine to get lost this year, you could always hop into the 'sack
for a chocolate-flavoured endorphin shot instead!
Some herbs and superfoods support endorphin production directly or indirectly, sustaining a healthy body and mind long after the afterglow has dimmed. These include Rhodiola rosea
, ashwaganda, goji berries
, cordyceps and maca
. Ask the Hopsack helpers for advice on how to turn every day into a love day.
Happy Vally Day!
NB If you are unwell, and/or on prescription or OTC medication of any kind, please consult with your doctor before using herbs or superfoods, as natural remedies can potentially interact with medication, with negative results.