Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the hypothalamus in the brain and acts primarily as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Oxytocin is best known for its roles in female reproduction however recent studies have begun to investigate oxytocin’s role in various behaviours, including orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, trust, anxiety, and maternal behaviours. For this reason, it is sometimes referred to as the “cuddle hormone”.
In humans, oxytocin is released during hugging and pleasant physical touch, and plays a part in the human sexual response cycle. Levels of oxytocin are high among people who state they are falling in love, and it seems to also mediate other forms of bonding like friendship and family relationships.
People who have sociophobic behaviours improve after being treated with oxytocin. It appears to change the brain signals related to social recognition via facial expressions, perhaps by changing the firing of the amygdala, the part of the brain that plays a primary role in the processing of important emotional stimuli. In this way, oxytocin in the brain may be a potent mediator of human social behaviour.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine are studying whether oxytocin might help patients with schizophrenia, social anxiety and a variety of other disorders. It may also help with autism and other conditions where suffers often avoid eye-to-eye gaze, focus on less relavent areas of the face, and avoid meaningful social contact. The UCSD researchers theorize that use of oxytocin might act on the brains of these patients which ultimately increase the level of trust or emotional contact between patient and physician, or with patients and significant others.
Oxytocin can also affect different anti-stress functions, such as the reduction of blood pressure and cortisol levels, reducing anxiety, and increasing tolerance to pain.
Oxytocin may be administered by injection (IV, IM or SC). We recommend using subcutaneous injections (SC) as it is easy to administer yourself at home. We also offer a new needle-free injector for easy, pain free injections. For more information on our needle-free injector click here.
Studies have proven oxytocin nasal spray to effectively increase serum oxytocin levels which is another convenient way to administer oxytocin. Our laboratory produces a sterile oxytocin nasal spray which is also available with a doctors prescription. It may also be administered sublingually and is also available in this form however we recommend the injection or nasal spray instead as they are the most effective.