Valentine’s Day is coming, and if you’ve been spending all your time wishing and hoping for true love — or at least a real life love potion that doesn’t carry all the unintended side effects that these things historically have — then you’re in luck! Why? Because a new study reveals that a hormone we previously didn’t think too much about (have you even heard of kisspeptin?) could fix all our love and sex problems. (Oh, and it could also help depression, too).
According to U.S. News & World Report, researchers injected 29 “healthy, heterosexual males” with either the naturally-occurring hormone or a placebo (poor guys) and then scanned their brains as study participants looked at images of people in different situations. What they found is that those treated with the hormone — “which stimulates the release of other reproductive hormones” — experienced a big change when shown a particular type of image:
After an injection of kisspeptin, seeing sexual or romantic images of couples triggered increased activity in brain areas typically activated by sexual arousal and romance, the findings showed.
Nice! Awesome! And just in time for the most romantic day of the year. Of course, the researchers aren’t going to go out and start selling syringes of the stuff — could you imagine a kisspeptin aisle at your local drug store? — and the study needs to be replicated before we can start drawing more detailed conclusions, but this is very promising news. Especially considering that kisspeptin isn’t just useful for helping people get frisky.
The researchers now want to study whether kisspeptin could have uses outside of promoting feelings of love and sexual arousal and decreasing negative mood. In fact, a possible next step is researching whether injections of the hormone could positively impact people who are having trouble attempting to conceive a child:
“Most of the research and treatment methods for infertility to date have focused on the biological factors that may make it difficult for a couple to conceive naturally. These of course play a huge part in reproduction, but the role that the brain and emotional processing play in this process is also very important, and only partially understood,” said study author Waljit Dhillo.
Could kisspeptin also be an effective treatment for depression? It’s possible. More studies will have to be done, but the researchers are optimistic about its effects on psychological disorders such as depression. And hey, if we do get to a point where feelings of love and interest in sex could be bottled up and put into a conveniently digestible form, then would that be so bad? More love the better, right?