The effects of alcohol and the "love hormone" oxytocin aren't all that different, according to a study review done by researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK. More specifically, both can lead to great euphoria -- and some negative, even destructive behavior as well.
The review, which was published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, took a look at previous studies done on the effects of both oxytocin and alcohol and concluded that the former, which is produced in the body when a person feels love or connection, can be incredibly positive -- it's the hormone associated with falling in love, maternal bonding, altruism and generosity, after all. But just like alcohol, it has a dark side.
"We thought it was an area worth exploring, so we pooled existing research into the effects of both oxytocin and alcohol and were struck by the incredible similarities between the two compounds," Ian Mitchell, one of the study's researchers, said in a press release.
That "dark side" includes (unsurprisingly) aggressive, boastful and envious behavior. These effects are found as a result of both alcohol consumption and the closest approximation of falling in love that could be done in a lab setting: the nasal administration of oxytocin.
Although it's fascinating to know that being drunk and in love are sort of the same thing biologically (you nailed it, Beyonce), Mitchell says he doubts oxytocin will ever be used recreationally, and that the concept needs to be studied further before a more conclusive parallel can be drawn.
"In relation to the social effects of oxytocin, our main interests are in the dark side of the peptide. As well as promoting pro-social behaviors, the drug can clearly induce antisocial behaviors as well," he told The Huffington Post, adding, "Oxytocin is also associated with increased envy and gloating. This, and the effects on magnifying in/out group biases [meaning, favor for loved ones and prejudice against people outside this inner circle], would be important areas of study."
Until then, we'll just be doing this dance.
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