Valentine's Day: Dr Denton Weiss on The Gift of Love and the Healing Power of Touch
our fingers. Beautiful isn't it!
The Mayo Clinic has a program called the Healing Touch that is based on the power of human touch to assist in the healing of sick and wounded. An article in JAMA reviewed 80+ articles that studied therapeutic touch as means of helping patients. The only documented improvement in health was in anxiety and stress reduction.
Dementia patients have been found to have less restlessness and irritability when exposed to therapeutic touch twice a day. Schniederman et al, 2012, reported the effect on oxytocin levels in new lovers. In their work they looked at the blood levels of oxytocin a neuropeptide found in the brain. It is sometimes called the hormone of love. The findings showed that couples who stayed together vs. the single individuals who separated had higher levels of oxytocin in their bodies.
The study demonstrated that oxytocin correlated with the couples' interactive reciprocity, including social focus, positive affect and affectionate touch. They suggest that parental and romantic attachment share underlying bio-behavioral mechanisms. Could this be love? Eros. Philia..?
Gordon et al, 2010, looked at the levels of oxytocin and the correlation of touch and interaction in the family. 37 parents were evaluated at the 2nd and 6th postpartum (after the birth of their 1st child). Triadic synchrony was evaluated through video tape analysis and both oxytocin and cortisol levels were analyzed.
Triadic synchrony is defined as moments of coordination between physical proximity and affectionate touch between the parents as well as between parent and infant while both parent and child are synchronizing their social gaze.
Elevated oxytocin levels were able to be predicted by the interactin between the child, mother, and father. Among mothers, triadic synchrony was also independently related to lower levels of coritisol (stress hormone). These results beautifully highlight the role of oxytocin in the early formation of the family unit at the transition to parenthood.
Love within the family demonstrated by gaze and touch leads to a chemical change in our bodies. The Bonding of Child to the Parents does the same! When your Bride is carrying your child, place your hand on her tummy. As you feel the little one within your bonds are made. That bond of the three, in a mysterious and wonderful way, points us toward the Love of the Trinity.
None of this medical information should surprise us. We were made by Love and we were made for love. It is love which makes us happy. It is love which makes us fully human. Remember this when you give that box of chocolates and roses to your love this Valentine's Day. Look in her eyes and hold her hand and remember it may be Eros, but it's really Agape. The power of Touch, the power of the gift, the power of Love. Happy Valentines Day!
Dr Denton D. Weiss, M.D. is board certified in both Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. Dr. Weiss' approach to his medical practice flows from his convictions about the meaning of life which are deeply rooted in his Catholic Faith. He and his wife, Michelle strive for an integrated approach to life which recognizes the unity of the body, mind and soul. They call this approach "Bella Vitae" or "Beautiful Living". He, and Michelle, are contributing writers to Catholic Online.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Love, medical, healing, medicine, health, holistic, Valentines, touch, therapeutic touch, Dr Denton D. Weiss,
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