8 scientifically-proven ways your“cuddle hormone” is doing you good
The Wonders of Oxytocin
By Lynn Lopez
Known as the “love hormone” or the “cuddle hormone”, oxytocin plays major roles in birth and bonding. Who hasn’t had that oh-so-good feeling after getting a big hug from someone you love at the end of a hard day? How about the feeling of giddy excitement when you’re getting to know somebody new and with the possibility of a new relationship?
You can chalk it up to chemistry, specifically, a cocktail of naturally occurring hormones – especially oxytocin – that make us feel good. Oxytocin was first observed in 1906 to help in speeding up and easing the birthing process as well as in releasing breast milk. Since then, Oxytocin has been found to have positive effects on our behavior and human relationships.
Here are eight science-based benefits of oxytocin:
1. IT MAKES CHILDBIRTH EASIER.
Oxytocin helps the cervix stretch and stimulates uterine contractions.
2. IT FIGHTS THE EFFECTS OF CORTISOL.
Cortisol is the hormone that is released by the body under stressful circumstances, and puts the body in a constant hyper-alert state. Excess cortisol results in disrupted body processes, causing heart problems, depression, and obesity. Oxytocin has the opposite effect. In fact, it is also known as the anti-stress hormone, which counters the effects of cortisol.
3. IT PROMOTES MONOGAMY.
In an experiment from the University of Bonn in Germany, oxytocin was administered nasally to a group of straight male participants, who were placed in a room with an attractive woman. Those who were in a stable relationship were observed to have stayed at least 28 inches away from the woman, whereas single men stayed 20 to 24 inches away from her.
4. IT ACTS AS A LOVE POTION.
Oxytocin helps increase feelings of love and attachment. It was also found to increase sexual arousal.
5. IT HELPS YOU READ AND UNDERSTAND PEOPLE BETTER.
A 2006 study at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that autistic volunteers who were administered with oxytocin and then required to listen to someone speaking were better able to identify the emotion behind the voice. Higher oxytocin makes you more empathetic and attuned to how other people are feeling.
6. IT STRENGTHENS THE BOND BETWEEN PARENT AND CHILD.
Oxytocin helps increase the bond between mother and child, which may be due to the fact that women produce a significant amount of the hormone during birth and breastfeeding. However, fathers’ bonds with their kids also get a boost. A study by psychologist Ruth Feldman at Bar-Ilan University, Israel found that men’s oxytocin levels match that of women’s during birth and breastfeeding. This boost is caused by their interaction with their babies.
7. IT HELPS YOU RELATE WELL WITH OTHERS.
Oxytocin can boost your self esteem and helps you enjoy the company of others, and it may even be instrumental in rebuilding damaged relationships. Oxytocin has also been found to increase people’s trust in others as well as make them more generous.
8. IT CAN SPEED UP WOUND HEALING.
A 2010 study was conducted in which small blister wounds were created on participants’ forearms. Those with high levels of oxytocin were observed to have wounds that healed more quickly.
Get Your Oxytocin Flowing
Oxytocin may be the easiest hormone to get because there are very many avenues to increase its levels in the body. Best of all, you can do them every day.
Here are just a few tips:
1. Hug someone. pleasant physical contact triggers the release of oxytocin.
2. Have sex. An impending orgasm floods your brain with oxytocin. The good part is that the hormone lingers right after, which makes you cuddle more with your partner – ensuring a constant fl ow of oxytocin.
3. Have fun with other people. You could go on a roller coaster ride, sing with friends, go dancing, or play with your kids – anything that can build bonds and create enjoyment.ZH