I thought it would be useful to summarise why Oxytocin is attracting so much scientific and media interest.
Oxytocin is a hormone, and therefore, a naturally occurring substance produced by the human body. Women have this hormone in their systems to a greater level than men, and it has been found to increase during and after child birth, giving scientists the first indication that the hormone may play a role in the psychological bonding between mother and child. Further research has found increased levels of Oxytocin are associated with feelings of less stress and greater trust and empathy, leading the hormone to earn the media tag of ‘the love hormone’ or ‘the cuddle hormone’.
There has recently been an explosion of research across various institutes across the world seeking to confirm the role of Oxytocin in creating empathic psychological states and its consequent possible benefits in treating psychological problems ranging from social anxiety to autism and schizophrenia.
It is unlikely that we will be seeing Oxytocin drugs or pills anytime soon, as it has been found that the only effective delivery method to get the hormone inside the blood stream is to inhale it through the nose. Thus, it is likely that any Oxytocin medical or commercial uses of Oxytocin in the near future will come in the form of Oxytocin nasal sprays.
Here is a brief list of what Oxytocin Nasal Sprays might do for individuals and for society :
- Reduce social anxiety and shyness in individuals
- Treat the symptoms of Autism and asperger’s syndrome
- Treat the secondary and possibly even the primary symptoms (delusions) of paranoid schizophrenics
- Help couples maintain relationships
- Reduce levels of stress
- Increase attractiveness to the opposite sex
- Help businessmen make sales (by increasing trust and empathy)
- Help people to pass interviews
- Reduce anti-social behaviour in schools, crowds etc
- Be (misused) by advertisers and politicians seeking to ‘sell’ their goods or promises
It’s not difficult to see why interest in Oxytocin is growing, not only are there big bucks to be made from successful commercial and medical applications, the hormone could have radical effects on society and culture itself. If you think back to the changes wrought in the 1960’s due to the widespread use of mood altering drugs such as LSE and consider that Oxytocin might become a safe and legal substance providing the positive social effects and more from such drugs, without the negative ones, then we really could be on the brink of a new flower power era.