Believe or not, there is a simple health remedy that boosts the immune system, cures depression, reduces stress and induces sleep. It is all natural, has no unpleasant side effects and doesn’t wear out. It doesn’t require batteries, yet it invigorates and rejuvenates, and requires low energy on the part of the giver.
It’s the hug.
Why Hugging Works
Hugging works because it releases the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that acts as a hormone and is what generates a sense of trust and morality. The body releases oxytocin when we feel safe and connected.
Dr. Paul Zak of Claremont Graduate University says that the “human brain naturally produces oxytocin during breast-feeding, orgasm, hugs, snuggling, holding hands, partner dance, massage, bodywork, and prayer.” (1)
Oxytocin also encourages generosity, compassion, and forgiveness.
The Effects of Hugging on Stress and Health
New research from the University of California suggests that oxytocin makes men more affectionate and better at forming relationships and social bonding. (3)
Psychologist Dr. Jan Astrom led a study which found that “[r]egular embraces can lower the risk of heart disease, combat stress and fatigue, boost the immune system, fight infections and ease depression ... Just ten seconds of hugging can lower blood pressure and after this time elapses, levels of feel-good hormones such as oxytocin increase, while the amounts of stress chemicals, including cortisol, drop.” (2)
The results of the study were published in the journal Comprehensive Psychology.
As hugging reduces stress, it also reduces the risk for many diseases. Hugging will strengthen the immune system. It stimulates the thymus gland against the sternum. This controls the body’s production of white blood cells, which keeps you healthy and free of disease.
Hugs also stimulate the brain’s production of dopamine which makes people feel good, and endorphins and serotonin which not only cause pleasure but also reduce pain, sadness, risk of heart problems, excess weight, and prolongs life. (3)