St. Valentine’s Day is here, and we decided to prepare a special post for you, dedicated to what is colloquially known as “the love hormone,” “the cuddle hormone,” or “the trust hormone.” All of these nicknames refer to one human peptide hormone scientifically known as oxytocin. Some functions of this remarkable hormone are quite well-known, but there are many interesting facts about oxytocin that you have probably never heard of. To find out more about the love hormone, check out these 25 Curious Facts About Oxytocin That You’ll Love.
Discovered in 1952, oxytocin is a relatively small peptide hormone, composed of only 9 amino acids.
Produced by the para-ventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus and released by the posterior pituitary, oxytocin helps mothers with birth, bonding with the baby, and milk production.
Oxytocin is produced in all mammals in exactly the same chemical composition as it is humans.
It has been discovered that oxytocin inhibits the brain’s fear center as it can reduce the feeling of fear. The finding suggests oxytocin could be used to treat anxiety disorders in the future.
Oxytocin has been linked to autism, with one report suggesting that autism is at least partially caused by a deletion of a gene that receives oxytocin.
Oxytocin was the first hormone to be isolated and synthesized.
Oxytocin helps wound healing. It plays a key role in so called angiogenesis, which is the growth of blood vessels or re-growth of them after an injury.
It has been found out that oxytocin has some of the same effects as alcohol. It can, for example, fuel aggression. British researchers say some similarities between oxytocin and alcohol are striking.
Studies have shown oxytocin may be effective in treating debilitating shyness, social anxieties, mood disorders, and even post traumatic stress syndrome.
Prolactin, the milk-making hormone, is dependent on oxytocin for its production. The levels of these two hormones are strongly correlated during breastfeeding.
Oxytocin lasts in the body for just about 3 minutes, but the effects can last up to 3 hours.
Curious for more info about hormones? Check out 25 Crazy Ways Hormones Control Your Life For Better Or For Worse.
Oxytocin might solidify emotional memories. Researchers have theorized that oxytocin intensifies men's early memories of their mothers.
Oxytocin has aphrodisiacal effects. It can boost sexual arousal in some people.
Psychologists have discovered that oxytocin can also increase optimism and self-esteem.
There are oxytocin receptors in our digestive tract that help us with digestion. After a big meal, we feel happy and sleepy as oxytocin is working to keep us relaxed so that our body can absorb more nutrition. It also stimulates gastric juices and digestive hormones.
Hugging stimulates the cells to produce oxytocin which is why hugging feels so good.
Oxytocin is also released during lovemaking, hugging plush toys, and even petting dogs and other pet animals.
Oxytocin is only found in mammals, but an oxytocin-like nonapeptide hormone that supports reproductive functions occurs in all vertebrates.
As oxytocin is released in skin-to-skin contact, massage is a great way to stimulate this amazing hormone.
Oxytocin released in the brain under stress-free conditions naturally promotes sleep.
Oxytocin can also give us courage we need for nerve-wrecking situations such job interviews, important school exams etc. Therefore, a quick embrace from our partner can help a lot.
Oxytocin increases generosity. In one study that required people to share money with a stranger, infusions of oxytocin were shown to make some subjects as much as 80% more generous than those on a placebo.
Some studies indicate that oxytocin inhibits tolerance to addictive drugs, including opiates, cocaine, and alcohol. Plus, it can also reduce withdrawal symptoms.
The word oxytocin was coined from the term oxytocic that has its origin in Greek (ὀξύς - oxys and τόκος – tokos) meaning "quick birth."
Because of its link to trust, empathy, and prosperity, oxytocin is sometimes also called “the moral molecule.”
Photos: 24. Ernest F. via wikimedia commons, 23. maxpixel.com, 21. nyphotographic via picserver.com, 13. Kurt Lowenstein Education Center via flickr, 12. Steve Wilson via flickr, 10. freestocks.org via flickr, 8. maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com, 7. Tara Angkor Hotel via flickr, 5. Cristiano Betta via flickr, 2. wikimedia commons