Oxytocin, nicknamed “the hormone of love and tenderness” is one of the most important hormones that humans produce. Indeed, it plays a role in the social link, the establishment of relationships, reproduction, birth and breastfeeding.
Oxytocin is a peptide hormone and a neuropeptide, ie a “chemical messenger” that acts on organs, including the brain. It is produced in the hypothalamus of the brain, often called the “control center”, and most often released by the pituitary gland. Once the hypothalamus sends signals for the production of oxytocin, it is either released into the bloodstream or into other parts of the brain and spinal cord. It binds to oxytocin receptors, which influences our feelings and behavior towards others.
The Love Hormone: How It Affects Emotions
Why is oxytocin called the “love hormone”? Because it is responsible for many aspects of social ties and sexual pleasure. Situations that make us feel safe, happy, and connected tend to release several “feel-good hormones,” including oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. Oxytocin also has similarities to endorphins (opiate chemicals) because we release more of them to soothe ourselves in response to sources of pain and stress.
How does oxytocin make you feel?
Research indicates that the effects of oxytocin are essentially the opposite of those related to our “fight or flight” response. Higher levels are linked to feeling calmer and having a better ability to handle stress. An increase in oxytocin can also potentially increase feelings of generosity, forgiveness, trust, joy, and security. It seems to help increase fidelity and monogamy in relationships by keeping us honest and facilitating compassion/empathy towards others.
How to naturally increase your oxytocin levels?
Here are ways to naturally increase your production to promote feelings of well-being:
– Physical contact
Hugs, massages, handshakes, and breastfeeding all cause the release of oxytocin.
– Essential oils
Studies suggest that certain essential oils, including clary sage oil, may aid in the production of the love hormone.
Giving and receiving gifts
Sharing meals with others
Petting a dog, cat or other pet
Meditating or visualizing “loving kindness”
tell someone you love them
Listen to soothing music
Talk on the phone with someone you trust
Walk or exercise with someone
View photos or videos of people you care about
Do foods contain oxytocin?
This hormone is not present in food, but it does play a role in regulating appetite. But eating certain foods can help you feel better around others: chocolate, coffee, fish, avocado improve your mood and your desire to connect. This results in a greater release of oxytocin.