Holding Hands Heals Pain, New Study Finds

A powerful new study has revealed evidence that love really does have the ability to heal pain. The study, led by Dr. Pavel Goldstein and his team at the University of Colorado, measured the results of people responding to pain when holding hands with their loved ones. What they found was that the pain actually lessened as they held hands, which is part of a phenomenon known as interpersonal synchronization. This remarkable response encourages the heart and breathing rates of two people to become in sync and clinically help to lessen the pain. Researchers are interested in this phenomenon and hope that more studies can help uncover new alternative pain relief methods in the future of the medical industry.

The study was inspired from Dr. Goldstein’s personal experience of witnessing his wife giving birth to their now four-year-old daughter. “My wife was in pain, and all I could think was, ‘What can I do to help her?'” he recalled. “I reached for her hand and it seemed to help. I wanted to test it out in the lab: Can one really decrease pain with touch, and if so, how?”

The Science behind Healing with Love

Holding hands through the pain may sound like a cliched movie to some, but science now proves that it actually helps. Interpersonal synchronization, the phenomenon behind love’s physical healing power, is an observed social response that people use every day. Two people walking together will sync in footsteps and body movement, and one person talking with a friend will sync their body language to mirror the other person. Followers of an admired leader may also physiologically ‘sync up’ while they’re speaking, and two lovers will sync their respiratory and heart rates by simply being in each other’s presence. These social responses encourage good mental health and are known to release endorphins, or the ‘feel good’ hormones, that are important in performing key body functions.

But can the love encouraged by synchronization actually relieve physical pain? As it turns out, yes it can.

Dr. Goldstein and his team of researchers conducted the study to explore the context of pain and touch with interpersonal synchronization. To do this, they examined 22 heterosexual couples between the ages of 23 and 32 in a delivery-room like scenario. In the scenario, mild heat was applied to the woman’s forearm for two minutes. All 22 of the couples were observed with three different situations for the same scenario. The first situation observed them in different rooms, the second allowed the man to sit next to the woman, and in the third, they were both holding hands.

The results that the team discovered were remarkable. Synchronization was present when the couples were side by side but cut off when the woman experienced pain. When the couples were holding hands, however, the synchronization actually lessened the pain. And the more empathy was expressed by the man, the greater the woman’s pain relief effects were. “It appears that pain totally interrupts this interpersonal synchronization between couples.” Dr. Goldstein stated. “Touch brings it backs.”

A New Hope in Pain Relief?

These findings in the study also happen to concur with Dr. Goldstein’s previous research about the healing power of touch and pain relief. Goldstein theorizes that the pain-reducing power of interpersonal synchronization could be stemmed from its effect on the anterior cingulate cortex. This region of the brain has been connected with a person’s ability to make decisions, socially interact, empathize with others, and perceive pain in medical science.

These new findings may bring more information to the table on searching for alternative pain relief methods that are opioid and addiction free. “It could be that touch is a tool for communicating empathy, resulting in an analgesic, or pain-killing, effect,” Goldstein added in regards to the new study results.

Will the connection of loved ones bring about a new hope in pain relief? Time will only tell in the medical community. In the meantime, it is yet more evidence for Christians that love really can heal. After all, the Bible itself states that God is Love and He also created healthy relationships for people to enjoy. It is only a natural conclusion then that love can also heal – physically as well as spiritually in this case.

~ Christian Patriot Daily


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