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What is Love?
Love of God, love of a child, love of family, love
of friends, love of country. Is romantic love
different than the love between close friends,
self-love or a love of humanity? Is love really
blind, unconditional, and thus beyond our con-
trol? The science of love is a fascinating blend
of neurochemistry, biology and sociology.
The Neurobiology of Love
The chemistry of love revolves around oxytocin,
a hormone first known to play a role in child-
birth by causing the uterus to contract and the
breasts to secrete milk. It further promotes the
maternal-infant bond. But more recently, we¡¯ve
come to understand that oxytocin plays a much
broader role in the scope of love.
Oxytocin is made in the pituitary gland, the lit-
tle hormone control center located in the middle
of the brain. Aside from the childbirth, oxyto-
cin plays a role in sexual attraction and sexual
intimacy. Studies show high levels of oxytocin
before and during sexual activity. Couples that
are newly in love have higher levels of oxytocin
and it is associated with increased romantic at-
tachment and monogamous bonding.
Oxytocin can be given to someone to instill a
feeling of attachment or bonding. It increases
trust and decreases fear, causing more gener-
osity and social bonding. The pro-social effects
of oxytocin have led to it being called the ¡°love
Other hormones play a role in the love process.
While estrogen and testosterone are simple
players in the lust process, with true love a
whole cascade of brain chemistry comes into
play. Dopamine increases make us feel satis-
fied, content, and pleased. Serotonin promotes
happiness while norepinephrine stimulates
arousal, attentiveness, and focus. All these
neurochemicals come together in an intricate
chemical dance leading to the feeling of love.
Much More than Chemistry
The Greeks had four words for love - agape,
phillia, storge and eros. While there is overlap,
it is an attempt to categorize the different
aspects that we think of as love.
Agape translates as ¡°I love you¡± in ancient
Greek and means unconditional, giving,
selfless, spiritual love. Whether love is given
in return or not, the love for another contin-
ues, expecting nothing in return. The love
of a child, friend, spouse, or God might be
The affectionate regard for friends, family
and community is Phillia. This is love with-
out passion, the kind that requires a give
and take and relies on virtue and equality.
Storge refers to the natural affection found
in families, such as that of a parent for a
child. Storgic love is the ¡®friends first¡¯ kind
of love.
Then there is ¡®Love at first sight¡¯, the ro-
mantic physical attraction, the love with-
out reason. This is Eros, the passionate
love with sensual desire and longing. The
modern variant of the word eros, is erotas,
which is more specific to intimate love, but
eros does not have to be sexual in nature.
The Greek philosopher Plato described eros
as transcending the physical love for an-
other person and being more about appre-
ciating the beauty within that person, or of
beauty in and of itself. Plato wrote that the
physical attraction for one another is not
necessary for love, thus the term platonic is
given to mean ¡®without physical attraction¡¯.
Yet another Greek term for love is Pragma,
short for pragmatic, meaning the love of the
2017 February/March
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Health & Nurturing
head and not of the heart. This is the love devel-
oped with the rational goal of seeking compatible,
desirable traits that will help achieve a common
In the 1950s famed psychologist Eric Fromm
described ¡®self-love¡¯ as different from being ar-
rogant, conceited or narcissistic. This is the love
of oneself, taking care of oneself, looking out for
ones best interests, and ultimately having a high
self-esteem. The Greek philosopher Aristotle also
wrote of self-love as being necessary before one
can truly love another.
Modern author Ayn Rand expanded on the con-
cept of self-love in her writings. Like Aristotle, she
argued that self-love is
at the heart of virtu-
ous behavior, although
Rand¡¯s version was
more in support of a
rational egoism than
a purely virtuous love.
Either way, self-love is
an important concept
in human emotion and
a certain amount of
selfishness can have
its virtues.
All You Need is Love
How fitting it was, that
the very first world-
wide live television
broadcast was the
Beatles, performing
their legendary song
¡®All You Need is Love¡¯.
Watched by over 150
million people it had
meaning that was un-
derstood by everyone.
It was a clear message
that love is everything.
Love is indeed a ¡°many
splendored thing¡± with
all the various ways we
experience love. Hav-
ing self-love and agape
might be enough. Eros
is perhaps the love
that drives us most,
but unless it mixes in
some degree of phillia
or pragma, it usually
Love is free to give,
but can cost us dearly.
It knows no bounds
and binds us stronger
than death. It can¡¯t be
bought or sold, as it is
priceless. Once again,
said it so well, ¡°the love you take is equal to the
love you make¡±.
(Scott Rollins, MD, is Board Certified with the
American Board of Family Practice and the
American Board of Anti-Aging and Regenerative
Medicine. He specializes in Bioidentical Hormone
Replacement for men and women, thyroid and
adrenal disorders, fibromyalgia, weight loss and
other complex medical conditions. He is founder
and medical director of the Integrative Medicine
Center of Western Colorado (
and Bellezza Laser Aesthetics (www.bellezzalaser.
com). Call 970.245.6911 for an appointment or
more information.)
In Harmony
by Scott Rollins, M.D.
How an ¡®Average Joe¡¯ lost the weight
and gained back his life
(BPT) You¡¯ve probably seen all the articles about
weight loss, including those that explain how
to count calories or what foods you should and
shouldn¡¯t eat. But if you¡¯re still having trouble
losing weight, then maybe you just need a better
¡°strategic plan,¡± one you can put into action before
you get that unwanted ¡°wake-up call¡± from your
doctor that your weight is affecting your health.
Monte Morris received that wake-up call from his
doctor, who diagnosed him as obese, along with
stage 2 hypertension. At just 38-years-old with a
2-year-old daughter, Morris was a candidate for a
heart attack.
According to Dr. Mike Roussell, nutrition advisor to
Men¡¯s Health Magazine, Morris put such a strategic
plan into place, using five key strategies to achieve
lasting success and they can be effectively imple-
mented by anyone.
Make a decision to change
¡°I have never seen someone lose weight and keep
it off unless they had an emotionally driven reason
to change their life,¡± says Dr. Roussell. ¡°Monte was
no different. He had a little girl and a trip to the
doctor delivered him the news that he had stage
2 hypertension (an advanced form of high blood
pressure). On top of that, he just felt lousy. Monte
knew he couldn¡¯t go on living like this and he
made the decision to change his lifestyle for good,
not just for him but for his daughter, too.¡±
Attack weight loss on multiple fronts
Small steps and changes to what you are eating
are important, but you need to rethink your whole
lifestyle, envisioning who you want to be, ac-
cording to Roussell. ¡°Monte started to change his
eating habits and started exercising. Embracing
multiple healthy habits like diet and exercise is a
great way to get momentum with your weight loss,
ensuring that you get better results, which will
keep you motivated and doing more. Focus on one
to two diet changes and be deliberately active with
your life. Monte didn¡¯t even own a pair of running
shoes when he started running and now he runs
several miles a week. What kind of activity do you
5 strategies to lose 48 pounds