The healing power of touch is amazing!
Science confirms an impressive flood of chemicals enhances wellbeing in the human system after giving/receiving a hug:
> The pituitary gland releases oxytocin.
Oxytocin is the bonding molecule. This hormone affects the brain's emotional center, the limbic system. It increases trust, promotes contentment, and reduces stress, depression, and anxiety.
> Brain cells release anandamide.
This endogenous endocannabinoid is called the bliss molecule (ananda is Sanskrit for bliss). It can "smooth the coordination of emotions and movement" (source). It binds to the body's innate cannabinoid receptors, and plays a role in pain regulation.
> The hypothalamus releases dopamine.
Dopamine is the reward molecule. It stimulates the pituitary gland and increases feelings of pleasure.
> Serotonin is released.
Serotonin is the confidence molecule. While most of the body's serotonin is produced in the digestive tract, the central nervous system also releases serotonin. It affects mood, appetite, sleep, and sexual desire and function.
> Hugging promotes balance between sympathetic & parasympathetic systems
These systems control the "fight or flight" and "rest and digest" (or "feed and breed") responses.
> Hugging also boosts the immune system, lowers the heart rate, and feels great!
All the more reason to give and receive frequent, quality hugs!
It is unsatisfying to live in a society where the healing power of touch is not only devalued, but perverted. We recognize that humans have the ability to affect one another's energy fields as well as mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing, so we make choices to engage healthy touch on a daily basis.