If stress reduction is on your to-do list, a new study by Dr. Karen Grewen and colleagues at the University of North Carolina suggests that you need to add a loving hug or two to your daily regimen. Doing so has been shown to enhance the release of one of the body’s natural stress-fighting hormones, oxytocin. Please note that the substance in question is not oxycontin, the highly addictive and widely abused pain medication, but oxytocin. (Granted, the terms are so similar that one must wonder how the makers of the drug ever won approval to call their product by that name.)

The upshot of this interesting study is that we humans require regular doses of warm and loving contact–with a spouse, a significant other, a child, a friend, or even a pet. While our government in its infinite wisdom has mandated that we all consume multiple servings of bread and cereal grains each day, purportedly to keep us healthy (a position, the validity of which our readers and viewers will know we strongly take issue), it appears that they might better serve to keep us thin and our blood pressure under control by encouraging us to get 6 to 11 servings of warm affection, in the form of calorie-free hugs instead. I can see the add campaign now: A hug a day keeps the doctor away! Have you had your hugs today?

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