Rosengarten, Werda, Germany (Photo: Gosia Sachse vel.Głowacka, 16.07.2016)
On the occasion of today’s Valentin’s day for all lucky people even more happiness, and those less lucky ones I tap on a glass of wine and let go of a cheerful eye 😉
Love is a real chemical-biological chain reaction! In order for the whole system of external stimuli and internal biochemical processes to “sparkle” between two people, the whole system of external stimuli and internal biochemical processes must work in the right order.
Visionaries? Students? No, smokers
It all starts with the smell. And it’s not about perfume or a gym shower. What is important is the natural scent and, probably, the odourless pheromones hidden in it. Their existence in humans is not yet exhaustively researched by science. In any case, the smell reaches the nose, where it encounters a very sensitive blade and nose organ. This, in turn, activates the hypothalamus, a small area in the brain. If everything “fits together”, we start to be interested in our partner and our grey cells start to shine (this can be seen during positron emission tomography (PET) examination). The hypothalamus begins to produce phenylethylamine (PEA), which is a neurotransmitter. Its elevated concentration in the brain on the one hand manifests itself in states of unjustified joy, self-confidence, excitement or excessive activity alternately with a lack of concentration.
On the other hand, it causes insomnia, anorexia, shortness of breath, anxiety and depression. This is how often drug addicts feel – phenylethylamine is a substance belonging to the group of amphetamines. No wonder that it is commonly called “a drug of love”. The increase in the level of PEA entails further changes. The secretion of noradrenalin – a hormone called “love substance” – increases. It works similarly to adrenaline – at the sight of a loved one our blood pressure increases, heartbeat accelerates, blood glucose levels rise and appetite decreases. As a result of shrinkage of blood vessels, we cover ourselves with a blush and become sensitive to touch.
The secret of happiness
As the level of noradrenaline increases, another compound, the “happiness hormone”, or dopamine, begins to release. It completely masters the rest of the senses and the body. It is responsible for chemical processes taking place in the brain, which control the movement and activity of the body and the ability to feel pleasure. We know dopamine from everyday life, because its level grows rapidly when we admire a new gadget, a spectacular dress or an unpacked gift. It is dopamine that is co-responsible for the fact that we love “to death and life”. The second molecule in this duo is serotonin. When the level of dopamine increases, the amount of serotonin decreases rapidly at the same time. It is responsible for a healthy sleep and a sense of peace, and its deficiencies cause a general discomfort and lack of concentration. A person in love gets confused and falls into extreme moods, while at the same time waiting for the next meeting with their other half.
Love has an expiry date
So we have phenylethylamine (PEA), noroadrenaline, dopamine and serotonin -neuroprogens that make us go crazy out of love. The most important of them is the former because it controls the others. Unfortunately, the body becomes immune to phenylethylamine. Research shows that usually between 18 and 48 months (4 years) of the relationship, the whole raging fire of love slowly burns out and dies out. Then the lovers can even part! Fortunately, this is not the rule. As a result of dopamine, all the time our body produces oxytocin and vasopressin – hormones of similar structure, but different effects. These compounds work in very important moments for man. There are more oxytocin receptors in women. This hormone relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, has an analgesic and relaxing effect. In men, vasopressin, released by testosterone and acting like adrenaline, dominates. Increased levels of these two hormones evoke a feeling of relaxation, peace, feeling of bond and mutual acceptance. Thanks to their presence it is possible for mature love between partners to flourish.
Let peoplelove each other: who they want and how they want, because love brings goodness