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Love is a drug, with real medicinal benefits

Q.  Have you heard talk about a “love medicine”?  Is it a new wonder drug?

A.  It’s certainly wonderful but no doctor’s prescription is necessary.  When we experience feelings of love and connection, our brains release a cocktail of hormones and chemicals, most involving dopamine, oxytocin, testosterone, estrogen and vasopressin, says Jeffrey Rediger, M.D., in “Discover” magazine.  The key to this release is the vagus nerve that wanders everywhere through the body, regulating vital systems such as heartbeat, lung function and digestive flow.  “With the vagus as the connecting cord, emotions flood through our system in the form of neural messages and hormones….  And when we experience feelings of love and connection, our vagus nerve is set ablaze in positive signaling.”  Psychologist Barbara Frederickson likens it to “a sort of falling in love, if you will, with the people who surround you on a day-to-day basis….”  And, adds Rediger, “When it comes to our health and biological systems, any brief, positive interaction-—whether with your spouse, a friend, or an Uber driver you just met—-can be equally as important as the next and carries the same weight.”

 But the opposite happens when we neglect to interact with other people.  In this group, researchers found a 29% increased risk of heart attack and a 32% greater risk of stroke.  Plus, those with fewer social connections also showed disrupted sleep patterns, altered immune systems, and greatly increased levels of stress hormones. 

 Love medicine, it seems, is good for mind and body.

Q.  “Teeny-tiny,” “hoity-toity,” “blah-blah”:  The English language is filled with colorful forms, including reduplicatives, or words coined by repeating the word but usually changing it in some way.  Are you familiar with “flimflam,” “hobnob,” “lardy-dardy,” “razzle-dazzle” and “artsy-fartsy.”

A.  “Flimfam,” probably derived from the Old Norse “flim” (mockery), means “nonsense” or “to deceive,” says Anu Garg on “A.Word.A.Day” website.  “Hobnob,” “to associate socially, especially with people of higher status,” comes from the earlier phrase, “hob-or-nob,” used by two people drinking to each other.  And “lardy-dardy” is a reduplicative of “la-di-da,” imitative of affected speech; hence, it suggests “pretentious” or “dandified.”

 “Dazzle” repeats itself with a slight change to make up “razzle-dazzle,” or “noisy excitement, showy display, or extravagant actions,” especially used to distract or confuse.  Finally, “artsy-fartsy,” from Latin “ars” (art), means “pretentiously artistic or sophisticated.”  As Garg notes, “In Japan, there’s a 33-foot long scroll depicting various scenes of fart competitions.  In Japanese, it’s called he-gassen (fart fight).  Really!”

Q.  You’re shopping at a local retail store when you notice an attractive hand bag marked “genuine leather” selling for half the price of one at a high-end shop.  Why the difference in price?

A.  “Genuine leather” is a bit of a marketing trick,” says Dan Lewis on his “Now I Know” website.  “Genuine leather is, at best, mediocre.”  Leather usually comes in three grades: full-grain, top-grain and bonded.  According to the Associated Press, full-grain leather is top quality, “unaltered by sanding or buffing, so it retains the hide’s natural markings and is often thicker and more durable.”  As such, it will last for many years. 

 Not so true for top-grain leather, which is lightly sanded or buffed to remove the markings, making it look a lot like full-grain.  Finally, bonded leather is made up of many leather pieces, which “typically have been ground up, reconstituted and glued together into a sheet.”

 Any of these three grades can be labeled as “genuine leather,” since it only guarantees that the product is made of real leather.  But, per “Business Insider,” most goods marked “genuine leather” will be low-quality leather painted to look uniform.  “It’s made from what is left over when the other, higher grades are stripped away for pricier projects.”  Now you know.

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