Healthy Beginnings

The True Power Of Love

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The month of hearts is here again. As we celebrate “Valentine’s Day,” we usually have that feeling of butterflies fluttering in our tummies, and even the arrows from Cupid hitting our “sweet spots” of romance. According to Merriam Webster, “love” is defined as “a great feeling of affection,” so intense that it can “launch a thousand ships” or even make men “leap tall buildings in a single bound.”

Crazy as it may seem, we just get lost when this powerful emotion takes over us.

Is love only a feeling that comes when we care for someone? Or does it only present itself when we receive roses and chocolates? Or is it a possessed energy as we write our love letters to our sweethearts. What is love’s true power? These are questions whose answers come in unquantifiable measurements. Putting it into question — is it just an emotion that fills us with energy and makes us see hearts in our eyes, or is it something more concrete?

From a medical standpoint, evidence-based medicine has caught the power of love in action and has documented (and proven) that it does not only encompass the realm of our emotions but our physical health as well.

As we start our discussion, let us first look at the other side of love, or its lack thereof. We are pertaining to negative emotions such as loneliness, depression, isolation and many others that cause someone to “feel bad.” Usually these are the kind of emotions that may completely drain one’s energy from within. They also emit powerful effects into the different aspects of our being.

Studies have shown the following:

  1. Being lonely, depressed and isolated increases 3-10 times the chance of premature deaths.1
  2. Mortality increases almost up to 15 percent in people who are depressed, 6 months after having a heart attack.2
  3. An above average score in loneliness is correlated to a significantly lower functioning immune system.3
  4. HIV positive patients who were depressed had more than double the mortality rate than of those who had a more positive outlook.4
  5. A study was done on 1,400 men and women who underwent angiography (an imaging technique to visualize the arteries) with at least one vessel that is severely blocked. They were followed up after 5 years and showed results that the unmarried subjects and those without close confidants were 3 times more as likely to die than those with a strong support system.5

As the saying goes, “Love will save the day.” In this case, it will not only save you a day but will save you a lifetime:

  1. Independent of any other factors, there were fewer heart artery blockages on angiography for those who felt loved and supported.6
  2. A study was conducted on volunteers who were given the strain of the rhinovirus through nasal drops. All were found to be infected, but not all got sick. With those with the most loving relationships, there was four times fewer signs and symptoms of a cold that was noted.7
  3. Independent of diet, smoking, family history, and other risk factors; subjects who felt the most loved and supported by their spouse had the least amount of heart blockages.8

Love is a powerful emotion, as we can see, but it is not the “end all and be all” of a “healthy you.” Diet, exercise and lifestyle changes are still part of the equation to complete its corner stones. The stereotype of Valentine’s Day imposes that love should be given to a partner or others and to be reciprocated in order to be appreciated. The reality is — in order for someone to share love, we must first learn how to love ourselves. We cannot give something that we do not possess.

If we practice and master this art, then sharing love would come naturally to enhance the realms of our physical, mental and emotional health.

Melvin Ibarra Nario, M.D., H.M.D., is among the physicians who work at Bio Integrative Health Center International in Reno. Visit bihcireno.com or call 775-827-6696 to learn more.

References:

  1. Ornish D. Love & Survival. New York: HarperCollins, 1998.
  2. Frasure-Smith, N. JAMA, 1993; 270:1819.
  3. Kiecolt-Glaser J, Glaser R, Adv. Biochem psychopharmacology. 44:217-224
  4. Chesney MA, et al, The 4th International Congress on Behavioral Medicine, 1996. 88; 44:217-224.
  5. Williams RB, et al. JAMA. 1992; 267(4):520-524.
  6. Seeman TE, SL Psychosom. Med. 1987; 49(4):341-54
  7. Cohen S et al. JAMA. 1997; 277:1940-1944.
  8. Seeman TE, Syme SL. Psychosomatic Medicine. 1987; 49(4):341-54.