Another New Health Benefit of Pampering Identified: “Heals Your Heart”

The cuddle hormone oxytocin is constantly present in men, women and even some animals. We do it when we hug or have sex, but also when we sit on each other’s lap, for example. “It already happens when you see a good person, but even more so if you do something fun together,” says social psychology professor Carsten De Dreu.

heart cells

And that’s good for your heart, according to the new research. The hormone causes some cells in the heart to turn into so-called precursor cells. “These can enter the heart and transform into other heart cells. To restore the heart,” explains cardiologist Arti Ramkisoensing of the LUMC. “That result is really new.”

More search results

It has long been known that cuddling has health effects. A lot of research is being done on it. For example, the University of Maastricht recently tested the hug hormone on mice to see how it can support memory in Alzheimer’s.

Researchers from KU Leuven found that administering oxytocin makes people with autism more willing to form emotional bonds with others.

The Dutch Institute of Psychiatry and Forensic Psychology is also conducting research on the role of hormones in empathy in men with psychopathy.

If the hugging hormone were blocked by researchers, much less heart recovery could be seen. Cuddling every now and then can be good for your health. But it can’t repair all the damage: “It won’t work if there is significant damage, like after a severe heart attack,” Ramkisoensing says.

Another caveat to the study is that it pertains to young cells. “It is not yet clear what it does to a mature heart.”

Fatigue

So hugging yourself healthy won’t happen. But there are other physical benefits as well, says Professor De Dreu. “People who have been happily married for a long time are healthier. Oxytocin is a link in this. There is even evidence in the literature that it helps reduce stress. It can have a healing effect.”

But be careful before you start pampering with everyone right away, says De Dreu. “With crown, or if someone doesn’t want me to hug him.”

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