LifeHakx – Oxytocin, “Touch yourself”
By Eva Wisenbeck 28/02/2021
Audio interview HERE
The hormone Oxytocin has a few nicknames including the "love" hormone and the "cuddle" hormone because it's associated with several different feelings of bonding, closeness, and love.
Oxytocin is a peptide hormone and neuropeptide, meaning it’s a “chemical messenger” that acts on organs, including the brain.
What does oxytocin do, and where is it produced?
It’s produced in the hypothalamus in the brain, often called the “control center,” and most often released by the pituitary gland.
Once the hypothalamus sends signals for oxytocin to be produced, it’s either released into the bloodstream or to other parts of the brain and spinal cord. It binds to oxytocin receptors, influencing how we feel and behave towards others.
We usually think of it as a feminine hormone, but do men produce oxytocin too?
Yes — while it was originally considered a hormone that was only found in women due to its tie to labor and lactation, it’s now known to be present and important in both men and women. For example, it helps with male reproduction, as well as female reproduction, by supporting production of testosterone in the testes and motility of sperm.
Oxytocin also has similarities to endorphins (opiate chemicals) because we release more in order to soothe ourselves in response to sources of pain and stress.
How does oxytocin make you feel?
Research tells us that oxytocin’s effects are basically the opposite of those linked to our “fight or flight” response.
Higher levels of Oxytocin are linked to feeling calmer and having a better capacity to deal with stress. It also decreases sensitivity and awareness of pain.
New research suggests that increased oxytocin can potentially also increase feelings of generosity, forgiveness, trustworthiness, joy and security.
It seems to helps increase fidelity and monogamy in relationships by keeping us honest and facilitating compassion/empathy toward others.
What can disrupt Oxytocin?
Oxytocin and the hormone Cortisol have a love-hate relationship, they oppose each other like two kids on a seesaw. When one goes up, the other is forced to go down. The key is balancing the two.
A perfect example of someone who runs on excess cortisol is a person who takes a holiday and immediately gets a cold. That happens because cortisol was naturally suppressing inflammation and inflammation makes you sick. Once you take that stress away, cortisol goes down… and any underlying inflammation flares up.
Sickness is just the beginning of the excess cortisol hit list. Chronic high cortisol can also lead to rapid aging, loneliness, depression, hormonal issues and burnout. This translates into inflammation taking over It also can become easier to disconnect, detach, walk away. These symptoms are also a sign of low oxytocin.
There are many ways that you can naturally boost your production of Oxytocin in order to promote feelings of well-being and connectedness.
Sexual activity causes the release of oxytocin. Particularly, arousal and orgasm are associated with the hormone.
Non-romantic forms of physical affection also trigger the release of oxytocin. A hug from a friend or family member can do the trick, personal TLC like applying oil to your skin after a shower or bath. There are also specific ‘tricks’ you can use such as what Mark Waldman a well renowned NeuroCoach teach, try stroking the skin on your forearm to self soothe.
And pets, let’s not forget the healing power of pets! Very calming.
Studies also suggest that certain essential oils, including clary sage oil, may help balance hormones and encourage production of the love hormone.
10 ways to boost your Oxytocin from Dr Anna Cabeca. Some of these will directly boost your Oxytocin, other will boost it in part by reducing your cortisol levels.
Experiencing activities you enjoy
Be generous with hugs
Get or give a massage
Enjoy a pet
Give to charity or volunteer
Engage in your community
What happens if you take oxytocin in supplement or spray form? Although more research is still needed to confirm how oxytocin supplements and sprays affect our behaviors and moods, researchers think there’s a possibility that administering this hormone may help people dealing with social and emotional problems.
Conditions that oxytocin may be able to help include autism or Asperger’s disorder, social anxiety, schizophrenia, and depression.
Some early experiments suggest that oxytocin nasal sprays or injections may help people with these conditions better identify emotional content and facilitate social information processing.
Can oxytocin be taken orally? At this time there isn’t an oral supplement of this hormone available. Because it’s destroyed in the gastrointestinal tract, it’s given by injection or nasal spray instead.
Dosage of oxytocin depends on why it’s being given and someone’s response — therefore it must be individualized. When it’s given to induce labour, IV infusion is used along with frequent monitoring.
The synthetic version of oxytocin given intravenously (Pitocin) can also lead to side effects, including increased pain, digestive issues like nausea or vomiting, and others.
If you are curious and would like more information about Oxytocin and the latest research here are some great resources.
MindBodyGreen “The Promising Future Of Using Oxytocin To Help People With Autism” https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/oxytocin-can-help-treat-autism
MindBodyGreen “What Is Cortisol & What Causes High Levels Of This Stress Hormone”
Dr Anna Cabeca “Why Do I Feel Disconnected?”
Dr Anna Cabeca “DR. Anna’s Oxytocin Quiz”
Mark Waldman and Ari Whitten "How To Eliminate Stress And Anxiety"