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Intense love can relieve pain without medicine--study

To reach the study findings, Mackey and Aron did some tests on 15 students, who claimed to be in early passionate stages of love.

Love can act as a healing agent as a recent study by U.S. researchers, published online in the journal PLoS ONE states that love is effective in reducing chronic pain.

Researchers revealed on Wednesday that intense feelings generated by romantic love can affect brain in a similar fashion as powerful pain reliever medicine or cocaine.

Study co-researchers Arthur Aron of State University of New York at Stony Brook, explained, “The reason people are so attracted to cocaine is that it activates the area of the brain that makes you feel good. The same reward area is activated when people are experiencing the intense desire of romantic love.”

Intense love might reduce physical pain in an individual, but the trickiest part is how doctors are supposed to prescribe love as a pain reduction medicine.

However, co-study author Dr. Sean Mackey, chief of pain management at Stanford University, believes that "maybe prescribing a little passion in one's relationship can go a long way toward helping with one's chronic pain — assuming it's passion with the one you're with."

After carefully studying the data collected, researchers noted that viewing photo of a beloved or performing some mentally distracting task while in pain reduces its severity by 36 to 40 percent for moderate pain and 12 to 13 percent for high pain.

Research findings
To reach the study findings, Mackey and Aron did some tests on 15 participants, who claimed to be in early passionate stages of love. Participants were asked to bring three photos of their beloved and three photos of an attractive person they knew.

Then researchers, heated volunteers' left palm to cause either mild or high degree of pain. Then volunteers were asked to look at the photo of either their beloved or the person they know.

In another test, researchers analyzed the effects of distraction on pain reduction. For this participants were asked to perform mentally distracting tasks while their palms were being heated.

After carefully studying the data collected, researchers noted that viewing photo of a beloved or performing some mentally distracting task while in pain reduces its severity by 36 to 40 percent for moderate pain and 12 to 13 percent for high pain.

The photo of the acquaintance had no effect on the pain levels.

Before finally documenting the study results, researchers redid the experiment and this time they monitored brain activity of volunteers with a functional MRI.

They found that photo of beloved or mentally distracting task have the potential to reduce pain, but they activate different parts of the brain.

While detraction task activated thinking parts of the brain to great extent, a photo of the beloved activated more primitive “reptilian” regions/reward centers that are related to cravings and urges.

Relation with sexual desire next?
The co-director of the UCLA Center for Neurovisceral Sciences & Women’s Health, Bruxe Naliboff (not part if the study), believes that if love can contribute in reducing physical pain in an individual, then, next study could be on, if, pain reduction can be related to sexual desire.

"It'd be interesting to do an experiment with not just an acquaintance, but someone you feel close to — just not a sexual attraction," said Naliboff.