Addicted to Love? A Biochemical Reaction May Be the Cause

Are you a thrill seeker? Do you have a difficult time staying in a committed romantic relationship? Do you seek out new lovers because you are addicted to the feeling of falling in love�.again and again and again?

No, you are not just a hopeless jerk. There is a biochemical explanation for such galavanting. A specific chemical in our brains called PEA (phenylethylalamine) is responsible for granting us euphoria when we are newly in love. Unfortunately, the effects of this chemical wear off within 6 months to 3 years. Some optimistic researchers, such as Robert Friar of Ferris State University in Michigan, give PEA a time limit of 3- 5 years. But if you haven’t fostered your new love into a committed relationship by that time, you will more than likely feel the need to scratch that itch of PEA withdrawal by seeking out new sexual conquests. This is very similar to substance addiction.

PEA is a neurotransmitter released in the region of our brains known as the limbic system that speeds up the flow of information between nerve cells. The limbic system controls our basic needs, emotions, and desires such as hunger, thirst, sleep, joy, sadness, and sex. It is the most primal and animalistic part of our psyche. When that part of our brain kicks in, it is usually futile to disregard its directions.

James Weinrich, Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, states, “There’s no doubt in my mind that there are a whole series of biochemical pathways that are triggered when two people meet and are attracted to each other.”

We are all familiar with the rush of falling head over heels in love. It’s intoxicating. And when PEA levels are high, adrenaline is pumping overtime and love is blind. Some people are more sensitive to PEA than others, however, and some people seem to be deficient in the hormone. This leads to bleeding hearts and Cassanovas. When people are too sensitive to PEA or their levels are too high, they can become infatuated at the drop of a hat and suffer psychiatric disorders (certainly not depression, though). And if someone lacks sufficient quantities of PEA they feel a near-constant urge to press on to the next seduction. These types of people also seek out risky hobbies such as sky diving and rock climbing.

Is there hope for any reluctant Casanovas out there? Well, until the women’s movement raises enough funds to innoculate every male with extra PEA, those thrill seeking urges can be pacified by consuming products that naturally contain high levels of PEA. Chocolate is jam packed with PEA, and rumor has it that eating a pound of chocolate gives you the same elated feeling as taking a hit off a joint. One lady recently complained to me that her boyfriend wasn’t giving her as much affection as she was used to getting from him. After asking a few questions, I learned that he had recently stopped drinking alcohol and had switched to eating a lot of chocolate bars and smoking dope. Well, at least she won’t have to worry about him stepping out on her.

The amino acid, l-phenylalanine, has been shown to increase PEA levels. This can be bought over-the-counter in health food stores. And the anti-aging drug, deprenyl, also raises PEA levels.

There is an even more natural way to wean oneself off of PEA. Try to nurture your next relationship into “true love”. A different set of molecules, known as endorphins, is called into action when we experience true love. Endorphins are our bodies natural pain killers, and they produce feelings of calmness, warmth, intimacy, and dependability. Endorphins, which have the most positive effect among any hormone produced in the brain, work to make our bodies healthier, also.

Endorphins enhance our immune system: When they are secreted, they activate natural killer cells (NK cells) and thereby increase our immune system. Under stress, our immunity is compromised remarkably. NK cells are likely to lose their effects under stress. NK cells, which take responsibility for the immune system by killing defective cells, also have the ability to kill cancer cells.

Endorphins block the lesion of blood vessels: As the Endorphins are secreted more and more, shrunken blood vessels return to a normal state allowing blood to flow in a normal manner Most adult diseases, including impotence, start from clogged blood vessels. Endorphins help to improve the circulation of blood.

Endorphins have anti-aging effects: The oxygen coming into the body from breathing can change into Superoxide. This is one of the biggest enemies for humans because it causes free radical damage leading to diseases and aging. Endorphins can remove this harmful Superoxide by facilitating the production of the enzyme SOD (Superoxide Dismutase.

Endorphins are even steadier and more addicting than PEA. In fact, the longer two people are in love, the stronger the endorphins become. According to Mark Goulston, M.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, “Adrenaline-based love is all about ourselves; we like being in love. With endorphins, we like loving.” Bottom line: Learn to love yourself, the joy of loving will follow. And if all else fails, snort a line of cocoa powder.

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