QuickCheck: Is it true that love is a painkiller?

WISE men say; only fools rush in. But many people just can't help falling in love, which is a good thing after all as love is a powerful painkiller, with some saying that it's as potent as paracetamol, cocaine, and even morphine! Is this true?



If you just got into a blossoming relationship then... good for you!

Besides having that special someone who provides that warm fuzzy feeling, a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry on, they may also be relieving your pain. Quite literally.

Studies showed that intense romantic love really is like a drug after finding it can alleviate pain in the same way narcotic painkillers do.

"It turns out that the areas of the brain activated by intense love are the same areas that drugs use to reduce pain," said Arthur Aron, a professor of psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

He said when someone thinks of their loved ones, there is an intense activation in the reward area of the brain — the same area that lights up when a person takes recreational drugs or wins a lot of money.

Jarred Younger, a professor of anaesthesia at the same university and Aron's co-author in the study says reward sensation feeds into pain-suppressing centres that can block pain signals from reaching the brain.

And since love is an experience of reward, it could in fact have analgesic effects.

"These regions are also the ones activated by drugs of abuse, sex, eating really good food–anything that your body wants you to keep doing," Younger said.

Younger and Aron along with Sean Mackey, associate professor of anaesthesia collaborated on a study into the matter back in 2010.

They found that 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%.

He expressed hope that harnessing the activity of these brain regions could lead to the discovery of non-addictive methods of controlling pain.

However, scientists aren’t quite yet ready to tell patients with chronic pain to throw out the painkillers and replace them with a passionate love affair.

Until then, we shall let love lead the way!


1. https://stanforddaily.com/2010/10/14/recent-study-suggests-love-is-a-painkiller/

2. https://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2010/10/love-takes-up-where-pain-leaves-off-brain-study-shows.html

3. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0013309

4. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/

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