In brief: Hugs heartfelt in more ways than one

In brief

Hugs heartfelt in more ways than one

Once dubbed "the universal medicine," hugs convey both comfort and affection. Now research suggests that they may have additional health benefits.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina recruited 59 women ages 20–49 who had been living with a spouse or monogamous partner for at least six months. All the participants answered questionnaires designed to assess the frequency of affectionate physical contacts with their partners, such as holding hands and hugging. Then the researchers measured the women's blood levels of oxytocin, a hormone made in the pituitary gland that induces relaxation and lowers anxiety.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »