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Oxytocin Nasal Spray is the hormone oxytocin delivered in the form of a nasal spray. Oxytocin has gained widespread interest and fame in the last few years because of its increasingly scientific demonstrated role in the social behaviour of humans, from mothers bonding with their children, to gamblers willing to take risks or to trust others. Oxytocin nasal spray is the most common form of delivery because it is the only way so far found to overcome the blood brain barrier - important in administering oxytocin, because otherwise the hormone is quickly dissipitated in the blood stream before it has a chance to reach the brain.

Oxytocin spray may help those with anorexia and body image disorders according to the latest research into the 'love hormone'.

Scientists in the UK and Korea have reportedly found that oxytocin helped volunteers with anorexia form more positive associations with both food and body image than those being given a placebo.

A small, preliminary study hints that a hormone connected to positive feelings could help ease obsessions with food and obesity in people with anorexia.

"Patients with anorexia have a range of social difficulties, which often start in their early teenage years before the onset of the illness," senior study author Janet Treasure, of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London, in England, said in a university news release.

"These social problems, which can result in isolation, may be important in understanding both the onset and maintenance of anorexia," Treasure said. "By using [the hormone] oxytocin as a potential treatment for anorexia, we are focusing on some of these underlying problems we see in patients."

Oxytocin is sometimes called the "love hormone." It's released during bonding activities like childbirth and sex, and researchers have linked artificial forms of it to lowering anxiety in people with autism.

In the new study, researchers gave oxytocin or a placebo, via nasal spray, to 31 patients with anorexia and 33 healthy "control" patients. They all were asked to look at sequences of images relating to different types of food, and different body shapes and weights. The researchers measured how quickly participants identified the images. If they had a tendency to focus on the negative images, they would identify them more quickly.

After taking oxytocin, the anorexic patients appeared to be less obsessed about images of food and obesity, the researchers said. The study did not, however, prove a cause-and-effect link between oxytocin and the decreased feelings of obsession.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/oxytocin-love-hormone-may-help-those-with-anorexia/

Oxytocin has been previously linked to possible treatments for social disorders varying from autism to social phobia.

Lastest research on the love hormone oxytocin reveals that it can affect men and women in different ways. Oxytocin was found to make women more social and frienly, but men more competitive. However, the researchers believe this difference can at least partly be explained by cultural differencecs regarding the expected roles and behaviour of the genders. In both cases oxytocin improves the ability to identify and follow correct social relationships and behaviours, but culture determines that it will be sociability in the case of women, and competitiveness in the case of men.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2557013/How-love-hormone-doesnt-live-Oxytocin-make-women-friendly-men-competitive.html

Although known as the love hormone, it affects the sexes differently and not always in a loving way.

Researchers have discovered that in men it improves the ability to identify competitive relationships, whereas in women it enables the ability to identify friendship.

‘Women tend to be more communal and familial in their behaviour, whereas men are more inclined to be competitive and striving to improve their social status,’ said Professor Simone Shamay-Tsoory, lead researcher at the University of Haifa in Israel.

While many studies continue to further the belief that oxytocin is indeed 'the Love Hormone', other studies have focused on a possible darker side.  One controversial study had already indicated that oxytocin might actually play a role in racism, through re-inforcing ingroup and outgroup mentality.  And the findings of a new study published last month suggests that the hormone may actually increase conformist thinking in an individual within a group.

Two groups of 34 and 35 test subjects were given oxytocin nasal spray and a placebo respectively.  They were asked to rate the attractiveness of symbols, but only after they had heard how others (from both groups) had scored the symbols.  It was found that subjects given oxytocin were more likely to rate symbols higher if those symbols had been rated higher by others percieved to be in their group.

The researchers concluded that oxytocin promotes conformist thinking, in so much as it allows a person to be more easily influenced by a herd mentality.

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/09/study-oxytocin-the-hormone-of-love-also-makes-us-conformists/262637/

 

Another study has demonstrated a clear link between oxytocin and autism.  It was found that giving children a single dose of oxytocin nasal spray activated the areas of the 'social brain' in them.

"Our findings provide the first, critical steps toward devising more effective treatments for the core social deficits in autism, which may involve a combination of clinical interventions with an administration of oxytocin," said study author Ilanit Gordon. "Such a treatment approach will fundamentally improve our understanding of autism and its treatment." The findings are preliminary, however, and the treatment will need more rigorous investigation before it could be recommended for use in the general public.

www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/06/more-tantalizing-clues-oxytocin-may-be-an-effective-autism-treatment/258539/#

Studies such as these suggest that oxytocin nasal sprays may not only be used in the future to treat autism, but also other disorders which involve failings in social functioning, such as schizophrenia and, of course, social anxiety.

The role that oxytocin plays in the reproductive lives of women has long been known, but research is also showing that it influences male sexuality as well. Amazingly, the hormone when taken as a nasal spray appears to boost sex drive in men, leading to speculation that oxytocin spray could become the new viagra!

In fact, in men, the effects of oxytocin go a bit further than women. In addition to all the “cuddle” effects, a case report in the Journal of Sexual Medicine shows it boosts men’s sexual performance too.

It describes a married man with three children with social anxiety disorder (excessive shyness) who was given oxytocin as a twice daily spray into his nose.

It didn’t do much for his shyness but had a Viagra-like action on his love life, both his desire for sex and his performance during it. He admitted he felt closer to his wife and even went as far as hugging a colleague, a gesture very out of character.

Yes, it’s only one case but the findings aren’t surprising given the way it seems to stimulate so many different aspects of sex.

There are rafts of research showing oxytocin levels are sky-high during arousal, masturbation and orgasm.

Read more : http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/hormone-spray-boosts-sex-drive-854373

An Australian university has been awarded part of $2.5 million worth of funding in order to trial an oxytocin nasal spray as a treatment for autism. The funding will allow the University of Sydney's brain and mind research institute to pilot the use of oxytocin as a potential cure for patients suffering from autism.

Studies have suggested that oxytocin could increase the social skills of patients with autism, as well as a wide spectrum of people with social cognitive problems ranging from the shy to the schizophrenic.

Source : http://www.skynews.com.au/health/article.aspx?id=746547&vId=

Following studies that indicated an improvement in the social skills of patients with autism after taking an oxytocin nasal spray, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland has conducted a similar study to investigate whether oxytocin could improve the social skill deficits of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.

As well as suffering from delusions and hallucinations, patients with schizophrenia also suffer from a similar lack of ability as autistics to recognise the emotional states of others, and to function well in social situations.

The research carried out at Maryland found a dramatic improvement in the ability of the schizophrenic patients involved in the tests to recognise the emotional states of others from pictures of their faces.  This dramatic improvement in the social skils of schizophrenics was made after just 3 weeks of treatment with oxytocin.  Head of the research - B. B. Averbeck - believes more extensive research should now be conducted to further the exploration of the positive effects of oxytocin on patients with autism or schizophrenia.

 

sources include : http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/oxytocin-social-skills-schizophrenia-autism-0301122/

Although many research papers have earned oxytocin the title of 'the love hormone' or 'the cuddle hormone', several studies have suggested that oxytocin may even increase hostility to others perceived to be outside of the 'ingroup'.  Research has even raised fears that the hormone may simply magnify existing social traits.  So for example, whilst in most humans oxytocin might increase social bonding and trust in others, in certain people - such as psychopaths and violent anti-social criminals - it could even make their proclivities even more dangerous.

So researchers recently decided to conduct a thorough investigation into the effects of animals that are very like us, except that they are noted for competition and aggression  (so perhaps very like us humans) - Rhesus monkeys.  Would the inhalation of oxytocin nasal spray make the monkeys more or even less sociable?

The results of the study are encouraging.  The monkeys given oxytocin spray were more likely to let other Rhesus monkeys have a sip of 'their' juice than before.  The conclusion is that oxytocin could lead to more altruistic behaviour and kindness in the most hostile and aggressive humans.

Source :  Oxytocin hormone makes mothers kinder

A study performed by researchers at Concordia University has found that a sniff of oxytocin nasal spray can improve a person's self-confidence and ease social anxiety.  It is hoped that the findings, long suspected but until now not confirmed, will soon lead to oxytocin nasal spray being prescribed as a form of medication for sufferers of shyness and other forms of social anxiety.

Participants inhaled from a nasal spray that contained either oxytocin or a placebo.  After an hour and a half, participants completed a questionnaire that evaluated for neuroticism, extraversion, openness to new experiences, agreeableness and conscientiousness.

"Participants who self-administered intranasal oxytocin reported higher ratings of extraversion and openness to experiences than those who received a placebo," says head Researcher Christopher Cardoso, a graduate student in the Concordia Department of Psychology. "Specifically, oxytocin administration amplified personality traits such as warmth, trust, altruism and openness."

Read more at : Confidence in a Nasal Spray : Oxytocin can improve self-perception

 

Hugging and having sex are both known ways of increasing oxytocin naturally. This isn't just good if you want to bond with someone - raised oxytocin levels are associated with a decrease in anxiety levels and stressful hormones such as cortisol, and also lower blood pressure and a decrease in likelihood of heart disease, strokes, and other stress related diseases.

If you want to raise your oxytocin levels naturally, then take your social relationships seriously and become a more touchy-feely type of person. Don't be shy to give your friends and acquaintances a big hug every time you see them, or at the very least, a warm handshake. And remember that you can't have too much fun in the bedroom - good sex with a loving partner every day will help keep the doctor away!