What is Oxytocin
This month’s topic is going to be Oxytocin, also known as the hormone of love, happiness or the cuddle hormone. For you techies, it is released in the Hypothalamus in a diurnal rhythm peaking around noon with receptors found in most organs however especially high in the brain, heart, endometrium and fat cells (adipocytes). The effects of oxytocin are far reaching in the body: For example, in fat cells it can decrease the risk of diabetes, obesity and osteopenia.
Oxytocin has an effect on the HPA (Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis and the GBA (Gut Brain) axis via the vagal nerve with a strong ability to decrease the effects of stress on the body. Via estrogen it acts synergistically improving your mood therefore happiness. 80 percent of the oxytocin neurons in the pituitary gland express estrogen B receptors which means you have a decreased risk of cancer.
OK, so is this sounding like the miracle hormone to have? Yes, and there are so many more at work in your body that we will discuss in future articles. However, there is one problem… we have not found a way to make it that is affordable, stable and as effective as we would like. Now, when we produce it in our own body, it is free, stable and available on demand. HHhmmmm, and why are we not seeing commercials on TV about this?
Research Shows Benefits of Oxytocin
What I would like to share is what the research shows — what you can do to increase this hormone in yourself.
So, there is the obvious, make love not war. Post intercourse there is a surge in oxytocin and a bonding effect with the person you are with. A second major way to increase oxytocin in your body is to give and receive hugs. A 20 second hug has been shown to decrease effects of stress, lower BP, and improve immune function. This includes your dog or cat whom receive the same benefit. We wonder why Amma the hugging saint is helping so many people; she is oxytocin manifested in a human form spreading healing to anyone open to receiving.
Other activities that increase oxytocin include exercise and expressing gratitude. Vitamin C appears to help as well. Some other benefits seen in people with healthy levels of oxytocin include increasing trust, empathy and the desire to be in social groups. People with optimal levels have less anxiety, stress, addictions, obesity and/or PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder). Oxytocin increases charitable donations, happiness, bonding, love and decreases the effects of stress via the HPA axis. I am officially writing a prescription for each and every one of you to hug as many people as possible each day. In fact, give mother earth a big hug as well for putting up with us humans and our crazy ways.