Love potions could soon be a reality
Existing in many a fairy tale plot, they may soon feature in our lives
The actualisation of love potions within our real lives seems absurd, however the University of Oxford's Dr Anders Sandberg says the idea is actually not so far-fetched, according to The Independent.
Senior research fellow and trained computational neuroscientist, Dr Sandberg explains that caring for one's children is a major reason for humans falling in love. Unlike various other species, humans are not self-sufficient from an extremely young age and need the support of their parents or guardians to develop healthily.
“We humans have really hopeless babies, unlike baby horses, who can walk a few hours after getting born,” Sandberg told Broadly.
“So from an evolutionary point of view, we need to make sure parents stay together to give their offspring the best chance of survival. That's where pair-bonding systems come into play.”
Sandberg explains how falling in love with someone causes the brain's dopamine system to be activated, releasing oxytocin and vasopressin. This effect cannot be produced naturally by any other circumstance.
Hormones are also at work when one misses their partner, due to the presence of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CPH).
“The thing that really creates a bond together is the dopamine system,” Sandberg said. “Many of the symptoms are similar to taking a stimulant effect. You have a dopamine release in your frontal lobe, and this causes you to recognize that this is someone who you should be around, who you should feel close to.”
Sandberg says that, although it would not be easy to effectively achieve, a real-life love potion could come into existence in the next ten years by creating a product consisting of oxytocin, casopressin and CPH.
“A good love drug would need to affect the right part of the brain by stimulating these systems,” Sandberg explains. “We don't have any proper love drugs yet.”
Scientists do not explicitly know how a love drug would work as of yet, however the fast-paced nature of scientific development should work in their favour.
“We're already much better at understanding brains and how to model brain circuitry than we used to be and within ten years I would be very surprised if we didn't know how to modulate this problem,” Sandberg says.
Being a rather unnatural concept, Sandberg is the first to admit the idea's potential problems.
“The classic love potion, which makes you fall in love with someone just because you drank the potion, is certainly problematic,” he says. “From an ethics point of view, if love potions like this existed, they'd really be quite horrifying date rape drugs, in essence.”
This controversial drug is bound to meet a cacophony of mixed opinions if it were to ever materialise, however Sandberg believes the drug could be used to strengthen existing relationships.
“When you're already in love with someone, emotions can change over time,” he says. “What if there was a way of topping up that love that might be starting to fade?”