It would appear Beyoncé knew what she was singing about. Scientists have found evidence that suggests people in love behave similarly to drunken individuals. This is due to the oxytocin hormone, also known as the “love hormone” or the “hug hormone”.

Oxytocin is a chemical compound produced by the brain, which assists in love and human reproduction. The hormone is released during skin-to-skin contact and is the reason why being physically close to another individual can often feel so good. The hormone is also involved in female reproduction; it's released to help naturally ease the pain of labor and reduce bleeding after childbirth, and also during breastfeeding to help women naturally bond with their newborns.

The link between alcohol and love has always been noted: Both make you feel happy, invincible, and filled with sadness once the effects wear off. However, this study, currently published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, took an even closer look at the interesting relationship between these two unlikely pairs.

"We thought it was an area worth exploring, so we pooled existing research into the effects of both oxytocin and alcohol and were struck by the incredible similarities between the two compounds,” said Dr Ian Mitchell of the University of Birmingham.

"They appear to target different receptors within the brain, but cause common actions on GABA transmission in the prefrontal cortex and the limbic structures. These neural circuits control how we perceive stress or anxiety, especially in social situations such as interviews, or perhaps asking somebody on a date. Taking compounds such as oxytocin and alcohol can make these situations seem less daunting."

Alongside the positive effects of oxytocin, researchers cautioned that – just like some drunk individuals – the hormone may also simulate increasingly aggressive, boastful, envious and insular behavior.

Despite the similarities in both compounds, the team does not believe oxytocin will ever be used as an alternative to alcohol, but they do predict these newfound capabilities open possible clinical uses for psychological and psychiatric conditions.

Maybe it is oxytocin, not alcohol, that is the “cause of and solution to all of life's problems”.

References:

  • http://www.iflscience.com/brain/you-really-can-be-drunk-love
  • http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love-sex/research-suggests-you-really-are-drunk-in-love-10263186.html
  • http://www.medicaldaily.com/drunk-love-now-backed-science-alcohol-and-oxytocin-show-similar-brain-effects-334092

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