The Neurobiology of Trust

ShareBy Paul J. Zak If you were asked to fall backward into the arms of a stranger, would you trust the other person to catch you? Such a situation, a common exercise in group therapy, is a bit extreme. But every day most people place some degree of trust in …

Oxytocin (Part 1/5)

ShareFeeling is the central organizing principle of human behavior. You can measure feeling in the brain, in the body’s biochemistry, in mother’s milk, in saliva and in spinal taps. We can measure it in brain chemicals such as serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, and dopamine. Feelings are all encompassing, and love is …

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Oxytocin – The Neurochemical of Everything Good

ShareOxytocin has been a favorite focus in my e-newsletter before. (Healing and Awakening into Aliveness and Wholeness at www.lindagraham-mft.net.) Oxytocin is the brain’s naturally occurring hormone of “tend and befriend” (Healing Heartache, Sept. 2008), the molecule of motherly love and attachment (The Neurobiology of Feeling Unlovable, Feb. 2009), the neuropeptide …

Recent Articles:

Oxytocin and Weight Loss

August 21, 2012 Oxytocin and Weight Loss Comments Off

Ask anyone who has tried on that dress or those trousers only to find that they no longer fit and immediately they go on the defensive – “must have shrunk in the wash!” People simply don’t want to admit that they put weight on, that the increasing levels of sedentary occupations and hours in front of the TV are related to the lack of clothes that fit. Mind you the retail sector is rubbing its hands with glee – clothes that don’t fit mean more spent on new ones.

But is the culprit our own lack of self-control, does our desire for ‘feeling satisfied’ drive us to eat more? A paper published by The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) suggested that help may be more readily at hand than we first imagined – but don’t anticipate a miracle cure, like some gastric band without the discomfort! It seems that our bodies produce a hormone called oxytocin and that this naturally occurring substance can provide support in reducing our intake – it’s not, though, an appetite suppressant.

… Continue Reading

Oxytocin and Work Relationships

August 1, 2012 Oxytocin and Work Comments Off

You know how it goes; “He doesn’t work as part of the team!” “She’s a loner…” “We need someone who will work with others to deliver.”  These are all familiar conversations uttered in the working environment and all can cause frustration between co-workers at all levels.

But maybe it’s more difficult for some simply because their body isn’t programmed to respond to others in creating affiliations and relationships – perhaps a little ‘Dilbertesque’[1] but, if you follow Scott Adams’ daily cartoon strip, you see what I mean.

Since the early 1900s when Henry Dale discovered it, the hormone oxytocin has been cast in the part of being able to affect trust, bonding and even a disposition toward giving (being generous to others).  Fast-forward through the 50s to the 90s, and it has also been seen to have an effect in cases of autism and anxiety disorders so might this natural substance be both culprit and savior? Well, yes, and no!

… Continue Reading

Oxytocin and Anxiety

July 13, 2012 Oxytocin And Anxiety, Oxytocin and Depression Comments Off

The human body is a complicated organism, linking a vast network of cells and vessels all helping to keep the body stable and healthy. The brain likes to keep healthy too, but the brain is also extremely complicated. There is still a great deal to learn about the most complicated object in the known universe, but we know enough these days to combat all sorts of problems that link to chemical production and reception in the brain, and there are also plenty of supplements which can be freely purchased to aid medical diagnosis and treatment. This article looks into the problem of anxiety, its effects, and a new candidate for treatment called oxytocin.

… Continue Reading

Oxytocin and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

July 5, 2012 Uncategorized Comments Off

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a rare but highly debilitating disease which is characterized by high and persistent levels of fatigue. It is not yet known exactly what causes CFS, but genetic, biological, and infectious processes may all contribute, as well as psychological factors such as stress. There is no test to indicate whether or not someone has the disease, and so requires a thorough examination of all symptoms by a physician before a conclusive answer can be given.

A review made by Dr. Afari and Dr. Buchwald in the American Journal of Psychiatry states that a single cause is highly doubtful, and that roughly a million people in the US suffer from the disease (1).

Before we discuss oxytocin’s potential for relieving symptoms associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, let’s examine CFS:

… Continue Reading

Oxytocin and Intimacy in Physical Relationships

June 20, 2012 Oxytocin and Sex Comments Off

There is an old R&B song that goes by the name of ‘Love Potion Number Nine’ and it appears to promise a solution to all that ails your partner in the intimate elements of your physical relationship – but is it all just a load of baloney? Apparently not!

There are a number of naturally occurring hormones – oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin – that help to govern how your body responds to certain situations and oxytocin has been shown to have a positive effect on the physical and intimate sides of relationships.

If, like many people, you’ve never heard of it (unlike the better known blue pill of ‘Viagra’), it isn’t an over-the-counter medication that is widely advertised. But as far back as 1994, two academics from the University of Hawaii (Elaine Hatfield and Richard Rapson) published a paper[1] in the ‘Encyclopedia of Human Behavior’ (volume 3, to be precise) that established a link between hormones, attachment and intimacy. Oxytocin, in particular, is released into the body during intimacy and touching, and is believed to increase the feeling of trust and attachment with your partner – often known as ‘love’ – it can also decrease stress and improve sleep patterns. So is oxytocin a real life ‘Love Potion’? And how can you get hold of it?

It isn’t as if the hormone’s properties haven’t been known for a good while, in fact it’s over a century since (Sir) Henry Dale[2] first discovered that an extract from the pituitary gland – it’s about the size of a pea, sits at the base of the brain and controls many of the important processes in your body; growth, temperature, production of urine and many, many more – was an important factor in child birth and the ability of the substance to contract the uterus and also to stimulate production of mother’s milk. Dale gave the hormone its name after the Greek phrase for ‘quick or swift birth’ and it is from there that it began to be widely known. However, it took some time, 1953 in fact, before an American biochemist, Vincent du Vigneaud, really analyzed just what oxytocin could do – and he, too, got a Nobel Prize[3] for his trouble.

… Continue Reading

Oxytocin and Parenting

June 7, 2012 Oxytocin And Adoption Comments Off

One of the most moving experiences of our, relatively, short lives occurs when we become parents – and not just for the first time either.

Seeing your offspring ‘live and kicking’, watching them smile, hearing them cry for the first time are all aspects of our lives that we cannot replace. Holding baby for the first time – whether mother or father, is when bonds that last a lifetime are formed. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t all go according to plan and the bond is harder to create – maybe it’s because the baby has difficulty suckling, or perhaps the mother is suffering from the after effects, sometimes it can be because the baby was born caesarean – but the impact can be dramatic.

Whatever the outcome bonding is important and when it doesn’t happen we all feel at a loss.  Is there anything that might be done to allay these issues?

A study reported recently (2010) in the online journal of ‘Society of Biological Psychiatry’  suggested that; “…parenting is considered the cornerstone of the individual’s well-being and adaptation throughout life.” In effect, if you don’t get it right at the beginning, then it could be an uphill struggle from there on in.

The report goes on to examine the effects that a little talked about hormone called oxytocin can have on the relationship between parents and child.  I say little known because, apart from a number of scholarly and academic papers, oxytocin hasn’t achieved the notoriety that Viagra has for its part in the physical aspects of a relationship.

First discovered in 1909 by Sir Henry Dale, oxytocin (name derived from the Greek ‘speedy birth’) is produced in the pituitary gland and plays a key role in the processes leading up to and immediately following birth – it assists in the contraction of the uterus and also acts as a stimulus for lactation.  But it does much more than that, as it also provides the basis for relationships, feelings and bonding between individuals.

If the body isn’t producing sufficient oxytocin then parents might just find it difficult to bond – not because they don’t want to, but because their body isn’t providing enough oxytocin to promote the relationship forming.  There is hope, however, in the form of a non-prescription treatment often useful when the mother is undergoing postnatal depression symptoms. It is readily available, as an ‘over the counter’ medication from your drug store or online. The medication can be found as the Oxytocin Factor sublingual drops or the nasal spray. Both forms are easy to use and can begin to take effect within ten minutes to a quarter on an hour and the results can be sustained for several hours. As its name suggests, the sublingual treatment takes the form of drops to be placed under the tongue – allowing for ease of absorption through the mucus membrane into the bloodstream.  The drops can often be a more palatable form that the nasal spray, that has exactly the same effect but is inhaled rather than absorbed – again the effect is for several hours.

However, Oxytocin Factor isn’t a substitute or replacement therapy, it should be considered as a way of ‘kick starting’ the process of bonding, it isn’t a replacement for the love and affection that a mother and father can lavish on their new-born, but it can help.

An additional and positive side effect is that oxytocin is naturally occurring and as well as enabling the bonding processes to take place it can radically impact of postnatal depression and allow all the parties in the relationship to relax into a more positive frame of mind – maybe even to restore sleep patterns, although disturbed nights are one of life’s rich tapestries of parenting. If mother is relaxed and the production of milk stimulated, then the baby ought to suckle more readily and both mom and baby will be easier.  If they are ‘at ease’, their mood will transfer to the father and the process of creating a life-long bond can begin – reflecting ‘the cornerstone…of well-being’ that was mentioned earlier.

Little did Sir Henry Dale realize when he published his discovery just over a century ago that his work would form the foundation of understanding what goes into making a long-lasting relationship between mother, father and child – he did, however, receive a Nobel Prize for his work.

For more information contact Bryan Post, Managing Editor of Oxytocin Central info@oxytocincentral.com or call (405) 476-1983

 

Oxytocin and Parenting

May 13, 2012 Oxytocin And Adoption, Uncategorized Comments Off

One of the most moving experiences of our, relatively, short lives occurs when we become parents – and not just for the first time either. Seeing your offspring ‘live and kicking’, watching them smile, hearing them cry for the first time are all aspects of our lives that we cannot replace. Holding baby for the first time – whether mother or father, is when bonds that last a lifetime are formed. Sometimes, however, it doesn’t all go according to plan and the bond is harder to create – maybe it’s because the baby has difficulty suckling, or perhaps the mother is suffering from the after effects, sometimes it can be because the baby was born caesarean – but the impact can be dramatic.

Whatever the outcome bonding is important and when it doesn’t happen we all feel at a loss.  Is there anything that might be done to allay these issues?

… Continue Reading

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Featured Content:

Susan Kuchinskas Interview

23 Feb 2012

Bryan Post interviews Chemistry of Connection author, Susan Kuchinskas.

Oxytocin (Part 5/5)

7 Jul 2011

ShareIt is my goal in therapy to help patients love and have the capacity to receive love; all else is secondary. Love makes us strong for our progeny. We need sex to enhance love, have progeny, and vice versa. It is the natural outgrowth of love. What we too often …

Oxytocin (Part 4/5)

30 Jun 2011

ShareAnother hormone, vasopressin, contributes to male nurturance of offspring – it makes for caring fathers. It also has pain-killing effects and helps make animals venture out and be more exploratory. If vasopressin is blocked, there is immediately less paternal behavior. When injected directly into a section of the brain of …

Oxytocin (Part 3/5)

23 Jun 2011

ShareBonding is the most positive aspect of human relationships. We learn how to bond emotionally in adulthood through early bonding in childhood, as simplistic as that sounds. It cannot be taught! And it certainly cannot be taught in later life. Attachment is pretty well set in our childhood. It is …

Oxytocin (Part 2/5)

16 Jun 2011

ShareOxytocin is found only in mammals. When it is high, one experiences a sense of relaxation, rest, and growth, repair and healing, loving behavior and emotional-attachment. Love and nurturing early in our lives are necessary for optimum health, and healthy brain development cannot take place without it. It isn’t just …

Oxytocin (Part 1/5)

9 Jun 2011

ShareFeeling is the central organizing principle of human behavior. You can measure feeling in the brain, in the body’s biochemistry, in mother’s milk, in saliva and in spinal taps. We can measure it in brain chemicals such as serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, and dopamine. Feelings are all encompassing, and love is …

Oxytocin Promotes Social Attachment, Beginning with Mother and Child

1 Apr 2011

ShareBy Maureen Salamon Oxytocin’s nickname as the “cuddle hormone” is well-earned, since many studies have proven its ability to promote attachment not just between mother and child, but among groups. One of the primary bonds among mammals, of course, is between mother and baby, and much research has focused on …

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