Valentine’s Day Part III: Chemistry Counts
Peace and Freedom
February 13, 2007
After watching my Mother slowly lose her mind or at least parts of her active decision making, and having other experiences with Alzheimer’s Disease and Multiple Sclerosis, I have become an observer and student of the human brain.
In fact, I have become so fascinated by the human brain and what the medical professionals know about our onboard human computer that I now consider the “space” between our ears as the new frontier: the new “space’ if you will.
This brings us, naturally, to Valentine’s Day.
Addicts, people afflicted with mentally debilitating diseases and everyone else on the face of the earth get jolts of “ups” and “downs” from their own body chemistry. One of the key chemistries doctors know about is dopamine.
You crave it, Baby, because your brain tells you to. You have to have it.
When I found out that dopamine had a connection to brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, to addiction and to human sexual attraction I became even more fascinated by the brain.Dr. Anne Marie Helmenstine asks, “Did you know that raw lust is characterized by high levels of testosterone? The sweaty palms and pounding heart of infatuation are caused by higher than normal levels of norepinepherine.
Meanwhile, the 'high' of being in love is due to a rush of phenylethylamine and dopamine. All is not lost once the honeymoon is over. Lasting love confers chemical benefits in the form of stabilized production of serotonin and oxytocin.”Dopamine and norepinephrine are the drugs of love: and therefore Valentine’s Day.
But while men can purchase Viagra; for most of us you have to make your own dopamine and norepinephrine.
I might add another stimulant of the human body: plain old adrenaline. This hormone is one of John Madden’s favorites. In fact, almost every athlete, everyone who has faced a super-stressing danger, most lovers and even people reacting to loud noises and bright lights are responding at least in part to adrenaline.That same “sweaty palms and pounding heart” impact of testosterone is produced by adrenaline. It is just that testosterone works even lower and harder than adrenaline.
Adrenaline’s first cousin epinephrine plays a central role in the short-term human response to stress. This is your physiological response to threatening, exciting, or environmental factors. This is why race track fans stand and gasp when cars wreck, why college men (and even some older guys) like strip bars and why some women can’t wait to explain where their “G-spot” is.
Even your sense of smell impacts the production of this strange cocktail of body chemistries. So doctors pretty much know that certain smells like perfumes and for me (and a bunch of others) cooking beef causes a certain rush!
Then there are the Pheromones. Pheromones are body released chemicals meant to attract and excite. Pheromones are substances which, when inhaled, can produce a reaction: sexual attraction, relaxation, excitement, even euphoria.
Moths produce pheromones to find sexual partners. The little rascals.
Many pheromones affect women and men differently and we can’t always control them by turning them up or down or on or off.
Whether you are a man or a woman and you find yourself with a partner that isn’t very attractive, I suggest you tell your friends that you were roped in by an unbelievable cocktail of pheromones.
But in truth, another drug called alcohol probably played the largest role. This is one of the most powerful and seductive and readily available of all the dangerous substances. Ask Mickey Mantle or Larry Hagman or Trra Conner. We noticed one media outlet calling Tara the "Boozing Beauty."
Her mother must be very proud.
Pheromones enter the same human super highway of everything in the air that smog and pollen use.
And again, aromas and things flying through the air and vacuumed into your schnozzle impact us all differently. For example: my Vietnamese born wife enjoys the aroma of Thang Co or Banh Chung. For me and millions in England, Ireland and the Middle East it is roasting lamb we crave.
But food aromas are not really pheromones which are naturally secreted by the body. Food aromas just use the same freeway.
"Love is a drug," says Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University and author of "Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love." In fact, love may be a chemical or a mixture of same.
But here is the thing: candles, perfume, dim lights, good food and a warm caress is all we non-professionals should be dabbling in. You start getting beyond that and you might wake up with Barry Bonds standing next to your bed with something to cheer you up!
And dabbling in these human chemicals can cause one to wake up dead, as the late Anna Nichole Smith and her son proved.
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