Published on: October 15, 2010

The Guardian reports on a Stanford University School of Medicine study which finds that love not only blocks pain, it also seems to stimulate the same parts of the brain as morphine:

Neural responses associated with viewing pictures of a beloved during periods of acute experimental thermal pain.

Intense spells of passion are as effective at blocking pain as cocaine and other illicit drugs, a team of neuroscientists say. Tests on 15 American students who admitted to being in the passionate early stages of a relationship showed that feelings for their partner reduced intense pain by 12% and moderate pain by 45%.

In the study, researchers at Stanford University showed eight women and seven men photographs of their partners while delivering mild doses of pain to their palms with a hot probe. At the same time, the students had their brains scanned by a functional magnetic resonance imaging machine. At the end of each test, the students were asked to rate how much pain they felt.

Feelings of love, triggered by a photo of their partner, acted as a powerful painkiller. Brain scans revealed that these feelings caused more activity in parts of the brain that are also triggered by morphine and cocaine. Looking at an image of an attractive friend rather than their partner had only a mild analgesic effect.

Read more at The Guardian…

One response to “Love Really is Like a Drug”

  1. Indira Ballal says:

    Love sure gives the effects of cocaine and morphine as long as it lasts. But, there is a flip side too. When it ends, the pain can be so dreadful that no pain-killer can alleviate. And, the aftermath lasts much longer than the brief euphoria of love. And, there is no palliative care available for this pain. So, the “therapeutic” effects of love for pain relief is something of a tongue-in-cheek that has to be taken with a large pinch of salt.