Oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, is a neurohormone (a substance that sometimes acts as a hormone, and sometimes as a neurotransmitter). It is produced in the hypothalamus and stored and secreted in the posterior pituitary gland. Oxytocin is called the love hormone because it plays a huge role in bonding to others and deepening relationships.
Oxytocin is released in numerous different ways. We tend to associate oxytocin production with sex, hugging, kissing and light caressing. However any activity that bonds us to another, such as having a simple conversation that brings us closer can produce oxytocin. It is also released in large amounts during labor, which helps with mother/infant bonding, as well as during nipple stimulation, and lactation, which is why breast-feeding plays such a large role in the bonding process. An interesting fact about oxytocin production and secretion is related to having an orgasm. Women always secret oxytocin with orgasm, however men only secrete it when having an orgasm with someone they love. This helps explain why women naturally bond to partners they are intimate with. Men, however, find it easier to keep sex and emotions separate and a big part of this is related to oxytocin release and how they are already feeling about their partners.
Scientific studies have shown numerous benefits of oxytocin including:
– Increased levels of trust and attachment to others
– Decreased levels of fear, anxiety and worry
– Improved immunity
– Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
– Reduced blood pressure
– Deeper sleep
– Reduced depression
– Reduced cortisol, the “stress hormone”
– Reduced cravings for drugs and alcohol as well as sweet, sugary foods
The benefits of oxytocin on heart health are quite fascinating to me. Numerous studies have shown how beneficial it is in its ability to repair cardiac tissue, reduce inflammation and reduce blood pressure. It has even been proven that along with the brain, the heart also produces oxytocin.
The physical heart coincides with the heart chakra, which is the energy center in our body where we feel love. The fact that oxytocin, the love hormone, is very healing to numerous cardiac ailments is just another way of showing how strong the body/mind/spirit connection is and truly demonstrates the healing power of love on our physical bodies. There are many ways to boost your oxytocin production. Here are some of my favorites:
Touch: Increase oxytocin through touching, hugging, hand holding and caressing. This has even been shown to work with animals so petting your dog or cat will definitely give you a boost. Another great and therapeutic way to receive touch is through massage and bodywork, so go schedule that massage you’ve been putting off. If you are touching another person, skin-to-skin contact is ideal and will give you the highest dose of oxytocin.
Cultivate warm deep friendships and relationships: Bonding with others, through talking, playing, sharing meals or any way you like to spend quality time can increase oxytocin levels. Exercising with a friend or loved one is a great way to do this as well and helps kill two birds with one stone. Friendships involve trust and if someone trusts you, it increases oxytocin. Oddly enough it doesn’t work the other way around, just trusting someone else won’t give you the same benefit.
Partner Dancing: This activity involves touch and being in harmony with another person and therefore is a great way to increase oxytocin production.
Give Hugs: Psychotherapist Virginia Satir said: “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” I try to give 12 hugs a day every day. Long hugs are especially helpful. Hugging for longer than 20 seconds has shown significant increases in oxytocin production.
Donate to charity: Being charitable to others helps us feel closer to them and has shown to increase levels of oxytocin
Listen to music you really love: Singing along will take it up another notch; singing with someone else gives you even more.
Laugh: Laughing increases oxytocin and has numerous other healing benefits as well so hang out with a funny friend, go see some good comedy or do whatever makes you laugh and enjoy the amazing benefits.
Eye Contact: Prolonged eye contact with someone you care about has shown to increase levels of oxytocin. This is also a wonderful way to develop greater levels of trust and deepen relationships.
Heart warming movies: Movies that truly touch you, whether they are romantic comedies, tear jerkers or anything that truly touches you at the core, have beneficial effects on oxytocin levels. What are your favorite ways to get your daily dose of oxytocin? Please comment below to share.
© Copyright 2015 Vanessa Naja/Holistic Moving