Boost Your Immune System with Hugs

Hugs may have healing properties (beyond making you feel warm and fuzzy). This flu season add a hug a day to your regimen--it may help lessen your cold symptoms, according to one study.

Hugs may have healing properties (beyond making you feel warm and fuzzy). This flu season add a hug a day to your regimen--it may help lessen your symptoms should you fall ill, according to one study.


The find was published in Psychological Science and highlighted in Carnegie Mellon University's news by Shilo Rea. Researchers wanted to assess what social support and hugs had on illness. The study singled-out participants that may be more susceptible to a cold's symptoms because of their heightened level of stress in their lives.

The team took 404 adult participants and assessed their perceived level of social support through a questionnaire. Every evening for two weeks, researchers would call participants to inquire about any conflicts in their lives in order to assess their level of stress and how many hugs they received to measure social support. Participants were then intentionally exposed to the common cold and put in quarantine to monitor their symptoms.

The results showed that social support did dictate how bad the symptoms progressed. Those that had a daily helping of hugs had less severe symptoms. Overall, it helped if participants had a great perception of social support and hugs whether or not they were under a great deal of stress. The led by Sheldon Cohen, Professor of Psychology at the Robert E. Doherty University, noted in a press release:

"This suggests that being hugged by a trusted person may act as an effective means of conveying support and that increasing the frequency of hugs might be an effective means of reducing the deleterious effects of stress. The apparent protective effect of hugs may be attributable to the physical contact itself or to hugging being a behavioral indicator of support and intimacy."

One other study, published back in 2010 in the journal of Developmental Review, showed that there was a reduction in heart rate and blood pressure with participants who received massage therapy. Researchers also reported a boost in their immune systems, increasing their “natural killer cells,” as well as decreasing their cortisol levels (a hormone associated with stress).

It's possible that a dose of hugs may be a more welcome immune booster during the cold and flu season. So, instead of running out to buy a pack of vitamin C, consider giving a friend or loved one a hug. But make sure you're not in a state to pass on any infections in the process.

Read more at Carnegie Mellon University News

Photo Credit: Qihui/Flickr

The 4 types of thinking talents: Analytic, procedural, relational and innovative

Understanding thinking talents in yourself and others can build strong teams and help avoid burnout.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to collaborate within a team and identify "thinking talent" surpluses – and shortages.
  • Angie McArthur teaches intelligent collaboration for Big Think Edge.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Herodotus’ mystery vessel turns out to have been real

Archeologists had been doubtful since no such ship had ever been found.

(Christoph Gerigk/Franck Goddio/Hilti Foundation)
Surprising Science
  • In 450 BCE, Greek historian Herodotus described a barge that's never been found.
  • When the ancient port of Thonis-Heracleion was discovered, some 70 sunken ships were found resting in its waters.
  • One boat, Ship 17, uncannily matches the Herodotus' description.
Keep reading Show less

Horseshoe crabs are drained for their blue blood. That practice will soon be over.

The blood of horseshoe crabs is harvested on a massive scale in order to retrieve a cell critical to medical research. However, recent innovations might make this practice obsolete.

Credit: Business Insider (video)
Surprising Science
  • Horseshoe crabs' blue blood is so valuable that a quart of it can be sold for $15,000.
  • This is because it contains a molecule that is crucial to the medical research community.
  • Today, however, new innovations have resulted in a synthetic substitute that may end the practice of farming horseshoe crabs for their blood.
Keep reading Show less

Jordan Peterson on Joe Rogan: The gender paradox and the importance of competition

The Canadian professor has been on the Joe Rogan Experience six times. There's a lot of material to discuss.

Personal Growth
  • Jordan Peterson has constantly been in the headlines for his ideas on gender over the last three years.
  • While on Joe Rogan's podcast, he explains his thoughts on the gender differences in society.
  • On another episode, Peterson discusses the development of character through competition.
Keep reading Show less