The Zoomer Report: Romance and Pain

Here’s some news about a natural pain-killer — and it’s not exactly something a doctor can prescribe. Researchers say falling in love can act as a potent painkiller because love stimulates the brain’s reward pathway, much like the rush of an addictive drug. It’s probably because the euphoric phase of a fresh romance has been linked to brain regions rich in the chemical dopamine.

Study participants looked at either a picture of their new love or a picture of an attractive acquaintance, or they were given distracting tasks. Researchers touched them with a hot wand to induce moderate pain and scanned their brains.

They found that looking at their loved one and distraction produced equal pain relief, but the distraction worked through cognitive pathways while the romance triggered a surge in that reward pathway.

That means the brain can generate pain-controlling responses without medications. The next question is whether better understanding of the love-pain relationship might somehow help scientists tackle chronic pain.

Photo © Daniel Laflor

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About The Zoomer Report

Libby ZnaimerLibby Znaimer, a prominent Canadian journalist specializing in business, politics, and lifestyle issues, is producer and host of The Zoomer Report, a special feature on topics of interest to baby boomers and the 50+. It covers everything from health and wealth to leisure and volunteerism, from the special vantage point of the generation that has changed society in its wake.

Ms. Znaimer is also Vice-President of News and Information for Classical 96.3FM and AM740. Her first book, “In Cancerland – Living Well Is The Best Revenge” – was published in October 2007 by Key Porter.

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