'Love hormone' has potential to make men more spiritual: Duke varsity researchers

New York: "Love hormone" oxytocin not only brings spark in your relationship but can also make men more spiritual, adopt meditation and connect to the higher self.

According to researchers from Duke University, oxytocin which is known for its role in promoting social bonding, altruism and more may also support spirituality.

In the study, men reported a greater sense of spirituality shortly after taking oxytocin and a week later.

Participants who took oxytocin also experienced more positive emotions during meditation, said lead author Patty Van Cappellen, social psychologist at Duke.

Spirituality and meditation have each been linked to health and well-being in previous research.

"We were interested in understanding biological factors that may enhance those spiritual experiences. Oxytocin appears to be part of the way our bodies support spiritual beliefs," Cappellen explained.

"Spirituality is complex and affected by many factors. However, oxytocin does seem to affect how we perceive the world and what we believe," he added.

Study participants were all male, and the findings apply only to men.

In general, oxytocin operates somewhat differently in men and women and its effects on women's spirituality still needs to be investigated.

Oxytocin occurs naturally in the body. Produced by the hypothalamus, it acts as a hormone and as a neurotransmitter, affecting many regions of the brain.

It is stimulated during sex, childbirth and breastfeeding.

Recent research has highlighted oxytocin's possible role in promoting empathy, trust, social bonding and altruism.

To test how oxytocin might influence spirituality, researchers administered the hormone to one group and a placebo to another.

Those who received oxytocin were more likely to say afterwards that spirituality was important in their lives and that life has meaning and purpose.

This was true after taking into account whether the participant reported belonging to an organised religion or not.

Participants who received oxytocin were also more inclined to view themselves as interconnected with other people and living things, giving higher ratings to statements such as "All life is interconnected" and "There is a higher plane of consciousness or spirituality that binds all people".

Study subjects also participated in a guided meditation.

Those who received oxytocin reported experiencing more positive emotions during meditation, including awe, gratitude, hope, inspiration, interest, love and serenity.

Oxytocin did not affect all participants equally, though.

"Its effect on spirituality was stronger among people with a particular variant of the CD38 gene, a gene that regulates the release of oxytocin from hypothalamic neurons in the brain," Cappellen noted in a paper published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.'Source: ummid.com
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Work-related stress? Try to stay fit first

Www.Sciencedaily.Com: It is a well-known fact that fitness and well-being go hand in hand. But being in good shape also protects against the health problems that arise when we feel particularly stressed at work. As reported by sports scientists from the University of Basel and colleagues from Sweden, it therefore pays to stay physically active, especially during periods of high stress.

Psychosocial stress is one of the key factors leading to illness-related absence from work. This type of stress is accompanied by impaired mental well-being and an increase in depressive symptoms. It also raises the likelihood of cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and an unfavourable blood lipid profile. Conversely, a high fitness level is associated with fewer depressive symptoms and fewer cardiovascular risk factors.

Fitness, risk factors, and self-perceived stress —The data from the study published in the US journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise shows that a high fitness level offers particularly effective protection for professionals who experience a high degree of stress in the workplace. To obtain this data, the researchers recorded the fitness levels of almost 200 Swedish employees — 51 per cent men, mean age 39 years using a so-called bicycle ergometer test. In addition, they measured various known cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure, body mass index, cholesterol, triglycerides and glycated hemoglobin. The participants were then asked to provide information on their current perception of stress. As expected, the study conducted by the Department of Sport, Exercise and Health at the University of Basel, the Institute of Stress Medicine, and Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Gothenburg illustrates that stressed individuals exhibit higher values of most cardiovascular risk factors. Furthermore, it was confirmed that cardiovascular fitness is linked to virtually all risk factors, with the risk factors being less high in people who are physically fit.

Clinical cut-offs exceeded in unfit individuals — The researchers demonstrated for the first time that the relationship between the subjective perception of stress and cardiovascular risk factors is moderated, so to speak, by fitness. In other words, among the stressed employees, there were particularly large differences between individuals with a high, medium, and low fitness level.

For example, when stress levels were high, the LDL cholesterol values exceeded the clinically relevant limit in employees with a low fitness level but not in those with a high fitness level. By contrast, where the exposure to stress was low, far smaller differences were observed between fitness levels.

Promotion of an active lifestyle — “Above all, these findings are significant because it is precisely when people are stressed that they tend to engage in physical activity less often,” says Professor Markus Gerber of the University of Basel. Furthermore, he says that the study has direct implications for the therapy and treatment of stress-related disorders. Source: The Asian Age
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