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Oxytocin – The Love Chemical

Oxytocin was discovered in 1952. It plays a role in social bonding, sexual reproduction in both sexes, and during and after childbirth. Oxytocin is a hormoneneuropeptide, and medication. As a medication, it is used to cause contraction of the uterus. Oxytocin has peripheral (hormonal) actions, and also has actions in the brain. Studies have looked at oxytocin’s role in various behaviors, including orgasm, social recognitionpair bondinganxiety, and maternal behaviors.

oxytocin
Positive social interactions lead to increased release in oxytocin, which has the potential to improve wound healing. Plasma oxytocin increases during sexual intercourse and at orgasm – in both men and women. Oxytocin’s effects on muscle contractibility may facilitate sperm and egg transport. It serves an important role in sexual arousal and sexual receptivity.

Oxytocin evokes feelings of contentment, reductions in anxiety, and feelings of calmness and security when in the company of the mate. This suggests oxytocin may be important for the inhibition of the brain regions associated with behavioral control, fear, and anxiety, thus allowing orgasm to occur. Research has also demonstrated that oxytocin can decrease anxiety and protect against stress, particularly in combination with social support.

Oxytocin, plays an important role in Increasing trust and reducing fear; and is also responsible at least in part for romantic attraction, romantic attachment and subsequent monogamous pair bonding. Oxytocin may help promote fidelity within monogamous relationships. Oxytocin released into the brain of the female during sexual activity is important for forming a monogamous pair bond with her sexual partner. Hence, it is sometimes referred to as the “bonding hormone.”

Oxytocin may reinforce pro-social behaviors after an initial bond is formed, but may enhance defensive behaviors to unfamiliar individuals. So overall, oxytocin is beneficial because it can either enhance social bonding or promote defensive behaviors depending on the situation. It has also been shown that testosterone directly suppresses oxytocin. This has been hypothesized to have evolutionary significance. With oxytocin suppressed, activities such as hunting and attacking invaders would be less mentally difficult as oxytocin is strongly associated with empathy.

How to Produce Oxytocin Naturally

Adequate production of oxytocin obviously has a lot of general health and mental health benefits. One of my team members says, “Oxytocin is the oxygen of life,” and so true it is… Here are some ways to increase your levels naturally:

Physical Contact or Interpersonal Touch

physical-contactDr. Paul Zak explains that interpersonal touch not only raises oxytocin, but reduces cardiovascular stress and improves the immune system. Any form of consenting physical contact, especially skin-to-skin contact, even a loving touch or a warm hand-shake can increase oxytocin.


Hug

hug-sohamOxytocin is often referred to as the “cuddle hormone,” or the “hug hormone.” A simple way to keep oxytocin flowing is to give someone a hug. Indeed, it’s one of the most wonderful ways to make someone feel good through release of oxytocin. Again it’s a form of physical contact, which is direct.


Massage

massage-sohamGive or get a massage. Apart from the physical relaxation of muscles, a massage increases our emotional wellbeing since the prolonged physical contact releases oxytocin in our system.


Lovemaking/Sexual Intercourse and Intimacy

intimateAs mentioned earlier in the article, plasma oxytocin increases during sexual intercourse and at orgasm – in both men and women; and it serves an important role in sexual arousal and sexual receptivity. However, the best amount of oxytocin is released during prolonged foreplay and lovemaking and not so much during usual sex and sexual intercourse. Again it’s another form of physical contact, which is intimate.


People

group-joggingWorking out at a gym, in a group environment or having a jogging buddy is a great way to sustain these human bonds and release oxytocin. Being people-oriented (of course selectively) helps to increase oxytocin levels. However, it doesn’t have to be cuddling (your coworkers might not appreciate that).

Oxytocin can also be triggered through social bonding, like eye contact, attentiveness, appreciation, and affection. This helps strengthen existing bonds and relationships. However, one needs to be careful about over-bonding with unimportant people in your life. Here as you see, oxytocin is released not only by physical bond but also by emotional bond.


Gift

giftGiving someone a gift, will also cause their oxytocin levels to rise. You can strengthen work and personal relationships through a simple birthday or anniversary gift. However, one should remember that gifts cannot really take place of love (the highest positive feeling).


Love and Affection

love-affectionSpending some loving or enjoyable time with your loved ones and friends, releases oxytocin. Actually it is the positive feeling of love that increases oxytocin. Love doesn’t have to be always romantic for oxytocin release. But harmonious romantic love triggers the highest quantity of oxytocin; therefore, people in romantic love feel so good and happy. Hence, we can better call this molecule as the “love chemical.”


Playing with Pet

playing-with-petIn a 2003 study, oxytocin levels rose in both the dog and the owner after time spent ‘cuddling’. The strong emotional bonding between humans and dogs has a biological basis in oxytocin. If you don’t have another human being to offer you affection and increase oxytocin your favorite pet can also do the trick.


Meditation

meditation-02Any form of meditation is fine, but I recommend our Hypno-Meditation (HM), which is scientifically designed to bring down the brain waves and at the same time using the ancient principles of Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation or focusing on some thought/s) and Samadhi (deep absorption).

The emotional effects of sitting quietly and going within are profound. The deep state of rest produced by meditation triggers the brain to release various neurotransmitters, including oxytocin.