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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!

Oxytocin may help relieve the symptoms of a rare genetic disorder which affects one child in every 25,000.  Prader-Willi syndrome can cause cognitive and behavourial difficulties in children, but researchers in France found that patients taking a single daily dose of oxytocin were found to have increased levels of trust and a decrease in disruptive behaviour.  Oxytocin has already been shown to increase trust and social abilities in children with autism.

Source : http://www.medindia.net/mobile/news/news.asp?id=86844

A recently announced breakthrough in delivering drugs directly to the brain may see oxytocin drug treatments arriving soon. Using oxytocin as a method of treating patients has been difficult because of the difficulty in overcoming the blood brain barrier - oxytocin that is injected into the bloodstream is for the large part destroyed by the bodies defence mechanism before it reaches the brain. This is why oxytocin is most often administered through nasal sprays, allowing it to reach the brain much faster. However, scientists have now discovered a way of overcoming the barrier, meaning oxytocin drugs for such disorders as autism, social phobia, and many others, may only be a few years away.

Oxytocin nasal spray might one day form a treatment for schizophrenia after positive results from the first study looking at the effects of oxytocin on patients with the mental illness, reports Biological Psychiatry.

15 participants were given doses of oxytocin nasal spray over a period of 3 weeks, and most reported measurable improvements in their symptoms at the end of the study.

Each participant in the trial were given either a placebo or actual doses of oxytocin nasal spray for 3 weeks, then a weeks break, and then the opposite, again for 3 weeks.

Patients averaged an 8% reduction in schizophrenic symptoms after recieving the oxytocin spray. David Feifel heralded his studies findings as 'proof of concept that there's therapeutic potential here'.