Vibrant health is your birthright and within your grasp; you just have to step out of the way. In the following excerpt, from Effortless Healing by online health pioneer, natural medicine advocate, and bestselling author Dr. Joseph Mercola—we highlight Healing Principle 8, which offers techniques through human touch that will make you intrinsically feel good. When your thoughts or emotions are swirling inside your head, physical contact with a loved one can help calm you, shift your focus away from your stressors, and provide powerful physiological benefits to boot. Read on.
A LIGHT TOUCH
A truly effortless way to improve your health is to touch and be touched more. You could eat only the most wholesome foods, and stay active throughout the day, and still you would not thrive if you were not in regular physical contact with other humans.
Physical touch triggers the pituitary gland to release “the love hormone” oxytocin, a neuropeptide. Oxytocin has many powerful benefits to impart. Primarily, it soothes the stress response, by counteracting cortisol (a hormone released in response to stress) and lowering blood pressure. Oxytocin also lessens the increase in heart rate that typically follows a stressful event.
Oxytocin has been found to reduce people’s cravings for drugs, alcohol, and even sweets. It helps reduce excessive inflammation and promotes wound healing. Emotionally, it helps you feel bonded to another person, which keeps feelings of isolation and detachment at bay. It is likely a main reason pet owners recover more quickly from illness; why members of couples live longer than single people; and why support groups are so effective for people with chronic diseases and addictions.
For your emotional and physical health, make warm, intimate relationships a priority, no matter what stage of life you are in. It’s an important ingredient of both emotional and physical health.
THE IMPORTANCE OF HUGS
One of the simplest ways to raise your levels of oxytocin and receive its stress-reducing and soul-soothing benefits is to hug more. Longer hugs—at least twenty seconds—appear to be better at significantly improving oxytocin levels, but any hug of any duration between two willing huggers is better than no hugs at all.
If hugging people more doesn’t feel effortless to you, hug and snuggle your pet. Just a few minutes of petting your dog or cat can trigger the release of oxytocin.
WHAT’S IN A KISS?
Another powerful form of touch is kissing. This uniquely human habit is said to have evolved as a way of sharing germs and building immunity. Clearly, there’s more to a kiss than that, otherwise we wouldn’t on average spend 20,000 minutes of our lives doing it.
Researchers at Arizona State University found that couples who prioritized kissing more for a period of six weeks reported significant reductions in their stress levels, greater relationship satisfaction, and improvements in their total cholesterol levels. Kissing has also been to shown to boost the immune system and reduce allergic responses in people with skin or nasal allergies. These benefits happen in addition to the release of oxytocin that kissing also prompts.
THE JOY OF SEX
No list of healing forms of touch would be complete without a few notes about sex.
In just one lovemaking session, you burn calories, increase your heart rate, and strengthen muscles, making it an effective form of exercise. You release hormones that can reduce pain from menstrual cramps, arthritis, and headaches. And you release oxytocin, which, in addition to the benefits I’ve already mentioned, also promotes restful sleep.
People who have sex once or twice a week have significantly higher levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which is the immune system’s first responder. IgA fights off invaders at their entry points; healthy levels of it can mean that the rest of your immune system doesn’t even need to get involved. Men who have sex at least twice a week are 45 percent less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than men who do it once a month or less.
And the oxytocin you release during sex also helps you feel more bonded to your partner, which provides emotional stability. As long as you’re engaging in safe sex practices, increasing your sexual activity is a surefire path to better health!
For more ways to heal yourself effortlessly, watch this video:
Effortless Healing is now available in paperback. Learn more at PRH.com/effortlesshealing.
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