We all know that hugs feel good but that may not be the only reason to squeeze the stuffing out of those you care about. Several studies show that emotions can have a powerful impact on our health. Positive emotions affect our health for the better and negative emotions for the worse. Specific studies on hugs are showing even more benefits. There is the hormone oxytocin that has become known as the “cuddle hormone” that is released in large amounts when people hug. This hormone affects many areas of our lives including heart health, sexual arousal, human bonding, maternal behavior, feelings of love and intimacy and the way that some drugs interact with our bodies. The drug “ecstasy” works by stimulating the production of oxytocin. Oxytocin is also plays a big part in the delivery of babies.
Hugs have shown to be a great reliever of stress. Many health issues can benefit from reduced stress and some conditions can be caused and cured by stress or the reduction of stress. Studies have been done that show the stress hormone cortisol decreases after a hug. Cortisol has recently been linked to weight gain and body fat. Blood pressure lowers in those who hug for 20 seconds or more. Hugging is also shown to have a positive affect on the heart health. Hugging is being used to treat chronic pain suffering and has shown to be very helpful. This may also be part of what has become known as “the French paradox”. French couples tend to touch dramatically more often than American couples. This may in part account for how their cardio vascular health is so much better overall than Americans even though their diet seems to contradict what should be happening. So if you love your friends and family give them a hug. You will be helping their health and yours!