I'm a sensual kind of person. My body informs me. As a species, we humans have generally forgotten to pay attention to the information our bodies are revealing to us. We're a thinking species and by being thus we think ourselves through situations rather than feeling through situations. This leads to a systematic demise of our abilities to recognize bodily functions that can lead us to healing modalities we used to know about back when our brains weren't so big.
Scientists, with the aid of new tools and resources, are leading us back to an understanding that will help us reincorporate this deep and ancient knowledge. For instance, recent studies have revealed an incredible healing facet through touch. These studies have come about through the curious representation of whiskers and the understanding that some parts of our bodies take up larger areas of our brain matter than other areas do. Remember the homunculus? This is that odd looking little "man" that is superimposed over the brain with big hands, lips, genitals, feet, head and other features that are out of proportion to the rest of his body. He is a representation of our brain parts and an illustration of how they are mapped on our brain. Some parts have much more sensory input than other parts hence the bigger representation on the homunculus.
This stands to reason because our feet, hands and lips do a lot more "testing" of the environment than do, say, our elbows. These parts have more neurons, and more of a variety of neurons, than other areas of our body and so need more neural space in the brain to hold the information they gather and use for future advancement. It turns out that they also have the power to heal us in some very profound ways.
What's happening to you when you melt under someone's touch? You relax. You breathe more fully and deeply. Your blood vessels relax and open. Your skin responds and you feel your body more acutely. In Western spiritual sex practices, like some Tantric sex approaches, adoration is used in touching exercises. A couple will sit opposite each other with one the Receiver and one the Giver. The Giver will slowly, gently and loving caress their partner's face. They will "adore" their eyes, cheeks, hair, forehead, neck, nose and lips with soft, loving touch that lets the Receiver know how much they are loved and appreciated and, well, adored. The eyes, lips and the area around the lips (our whisker area in mammals) all have larger homunculus representation in our brains. They have many more neurons leading to brain regions.
It turns out that recent studies by a team of scientists at the University of California-Irvine, have discovered that stroke induced rats recover 100 percent when they've had their whisker area stroked (pun intended!) within 1.5 hours of the "stroke." They recover fully. The researchers have never had this fail. They cannot reproduce failure in their experiments and they are blown away by this. This means that if you are around someone who has a stroke and you gently massage and touch their lips, mouth area (whiskers!) and, it turns out, their fingers they will probably recover full from any stroke symptoms. This is shocking. Touch fully inhibits the brain from the affects of stroke. Stroke is the number three killer in the US and leaves hundreds of thousands of people severely disabled every year.
The mechanism to recovery has to do with rapidly dilating blood vessels that look for an alternative route past the blockage, that the stroke has induced, to get to the brain area that is being starved of blood and oxygen. The touching also super-stimulates the blood vessels to relax and open wider resulting in more easily transported blood and oxygen. Adoring touch and massage relax our bodies, brains, blood vessels and muscles and this all adds up to the incredible possibility that if we give and receive much more touch it will heal us, make us more whole and very possibly save us. Oh, and maybe each of us will be lucky enough someday to save someone's life by adoringly stroking their face, lips and fingers.
There are more articles on the healing power of touch and "How-To's" about touching here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/suzie-heumann/
And here: http://www.tantra.com
And here is the summary of the research for this article. Again, as always, I have taken a little 'speculation' liberty (but not much): http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0011270