Love is stronger than medicines in some cases, and it is a life-extender for those who give it and those who receive it
Fight for Life
There are thoughts of eternity in the human heart. The fight against time, via supplements and health and beauty aids is strong evidence that we desire to a live long life, however, the most overlooked and underestimated life-extender is right under our noses, literally. It is within the human heart, so humans themselves have the elixir of life within them. God “has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Eccl 3:11), so the desire to live a long life is set deeply into our hearts, but also, all human beings desire something else, and that is the desire to receive the tender touches, gentle strokes and the reassurance of someone else…the desire to be loved unconditionally. Human love is amazing as it can draw out pain, provide internal security, create a safe zone for creativity [learning], and enable us to reach our greatest potential. For a child, a skinned knee, a dead goldfish, and hurt feelings are all made a little better by the loving care of a mother. A child doesn’t care how much you know but only how much you care, and unconditional love tells the child just how much you care. This is more likely to produce an adult that cares for others. Not much good comes where there is no love involved (1 Cor 13:1-7).
When my oldest boy was young, he loved to wrestle, and it was by these times that my son and I built a strong, secure relationship. He still has fond memories of these times and has repeated these encounters with his own three sons. With physical, hands-on activity like horseback rides, he has added a great sense of security in their lives. Being a father, I try not to take it personally that my children run to mom first when they’re hurt, but I admit I am a bit jealous at times, however, I have grown comfortable with my wife’s tendencies and her strengths. Rather than oppose each other, these attributes of a father and a mother seem to give the children balance… the masculine and feminine.
Oxytocin is a powerful hormone produced by men and women after copulation, and this hormone has anti-anxiety effects, and stimulates various types of positive social interactions, as well as promoting growth and healing. Immediately after sex, oxytocin hormone levels rise to nearly the same levels in both men and women, and the same people exposed to this hormone showed an increase in intimacy and bonding, arising through interpersonal interactions. It is hardly surprising that oxytocin is also known as the “cuddle” hormone which is released by both men and women during sexual intercourse, but also during times of close intimacy in non-sexual interactions. It is possible that the mechanism by which altruistic love affects health occurs through blocking or attenuating the stress response, or through activating positive neurotransmitter pathways in the brain. Conversely, loneliness does just the opposite. For example, extreme isolation and loneliness breeds congestive heart failure, so just as nature abhors a vacuum, a lack of love can lead to a collapse within; like a black hole where not even light can escape.
Love and intimacy are at the root of what makes us tick and what makes us sick. If a new medication had the same impact, failure to prescribe it would be considered medical negligence, so connections with other people affect not only the quality of our lives but also our long term survival. Study after study find that people who feel lonely are much more likely to get cardiovascular disease than those who have a strong sense of connection and community. I’m not aware of any other factor in medicine that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness, and premature death than does love, or the lack thereof.
Love and Health Issues
In one study at Yale, men and women who felt the most loved and supported had substantially less blockage in their coronary arteries.  Similarly, researchers from Case Western Reserve University studied almost 10,000 married men and found that those who answered “yes” to this simple question: “Does your wife love you?” had significantly less angina (chest pain) than those who felt unloved by their spouse.  When researchers at Duke surveyed men and women with heart disease, those who were single and lacked companionship were three times as likely to have died after five years. In all three studies, the protective effects of love were independent of other risk factors, and surgery patients who were loved experienced quicker recoveries.
The Love of Pets
For pet owners, pets are considered part of the family, nearly as much as the children are, and this seems to be nearly universal. Loving pets and being loved by pets is good for us (and them), since owning a pet lowers blood pressure, extends lifespan, boosts mood, provides humor, releases pain killing and mood elevating endorphins, and provides much needed companionship. They don’t care how bad a day you had. They’re just glad you’re home, so it’s not surprising that animals are excellent in reaching and connecting with people, including the mentally disabled, autistic children, juvenile delinquents, and nursing home residents, among others. Animals are therapeutic to both the patient and the owner; horses, cats, dogs, birds. Sometimes it doesn’t matter.
Love is infinitely more than just feelings. Love is a verb, but love also includes intangible things like feelings of security, acceptance, and affection, but love is also tangible, and is displayed by actions that provide evidence of that love, so love is not just a feeling or being in an emotional state. Love is a verb. It’s what you do! The interesting thing is, the more you give away, the more you receive, so it’s nearly impossible to give away too much love, nor can you ever receive too much love because the human heart has an ever-expanding capacity to love and be loved. God gave His only Son because He loves us (John 3:16). Jesus, who is God, came as a Man to die to redeem us, so God the Father sent Jesus (also God) to die on the Cross for simple creatures like us so we can live forever with Him. That’s love in action! Actions do speak louder than words, or feelings, or emotions.
There is a definite physiochemical connection between being loved and living longer, healthier lives, but a loss of love or being unloved can also lead to a shorter life. When a spouse dies, and the couple has lived together for decades, the surviving spouse’s lifespan is shortened, so in many cases, a spouse will follow their deceased mate in a relatively short time, so clearly there is a strong connection between love and health, and it’s directly related to the number of years a person lives, so love truly is a “wonder drug” since love can add years to a person’s life. The same applies for pets, so if you love, you live…longer. That is my hope for you. Even more importantly, if you repent and trust in Christ, you are loved for all time and saved for eternity.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is a writer at Christian Quotes and also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.
1. Love is Real. Dean Ornish. Newsweek; U.S. Edition. Oct 2, 2005 http://www.newsweek.com/love-real-medicine-121033 (Accessed Dec 11, 2017).