Popularly known as the love hormone, oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that helps humans experience positive feelings. For instance, the feel good factor among humans when in the company of a loved person, or when indulging in certain sexual activities or hugging is attributed to the rise in oxytocin levels. The feelings of satisfaction after indulging in specific activities is known to help fight depression and help individuals overcome certain physiological issues. Produced in the hypothalamus region of the brain, the chemical messenger is directly linked to important facets of the reproductive system and lactation. This is precisely why levels of oxytocin are higher in females than males. Here is a detailed look at how to increase oxytocin levels in the brain and amplify emotions.
Overview of the love hormone – what is oxytocin?
As mentioned above, the hormone created in the hypothalamus is also a chemical messenger used by the brain cells for communication. Present only in mammals, the love hormone is produced naturally during childbirth and this is known to help stimulate the contractions in the uterine. Among various actions attributed t oxytocin, it is known to hep with lactation, and help build bonds between newborns and their mothers. Partners indulging in sexual activity experience a surge in oxytocin levels when climaxing in an orgasm, and this gives it the name love hormone.
Before we look at how to increase oxytocin it is time to look at oxytocin a little more deeply. By virtue of the feel good factor associated with higher oxytocin levels in the body, couples enjoy togetherness and relationships. As an emotion amplifier, it brings more positivity in relationships. The love hormone is typically at its highest levels in individuals who enter a new relationship and this contributes to the bonding experienced during the honeymoon stage of a relationship. Various characteristics of relationships are attributed to oxytocin – trust, empathy, generosity, warmth, frankness, and a willingness to socialize easily.
How to increase oxytocin levels?
Now that we have the background to oxytocin and its contribution as an emotion amplifier, it is time to take a look at how to increase oxytocin. Oxytocin levels can be boosted either through the intake of select food products, or by indulging in certain actions. Here is a curated list of the best ways to boost oxytocin levels in the body.
#1 Vitamins – The intake of vitamins through supplements or other natural means is an effective method if boosting oxytocin levels. For instance, vitamin D is intrinsic to receptors in the body, and lowered levels of the vitamin can lead to a deficiency. The use of supplements helps improve the manner in which oxytocin is activated and controlled. The importance of adequate vitamin D is reinforced by research findings that show that children with autism are known to have lower levels of vitamin D and lower levels of oxytocin. Vitamin D is synthesized by the skin when the body is exposed to the rays of the sun. Individuals who are unable to expose themselves to the sun, can look at supplements to boost oxytocin levels. Similarly,
vitamin C is also known to have an effect on oxytocin levels. Regarded as a cofactor in oxytocin production, vitamin C is vital for oxytocin synthesis, and is also responsible for the secretion of the neurotransmitter. Vitamin C is commonly available through dietary intake of specific varieties of vegetables and fruits. Vitamin C is also available in supplement form, and can be safely consumed as per recommended dosage to boost oxytocin levels.
#2 Pets and socializing – Individuals looking for answers to the question – how to increase oxytocin – are likely to be told that socializing and having pets are a great way to boost the levels of the neurotransmitter. Socializing helps boost oxytocin levels as the brain is wired to release oxytocin whenever humans come in contact with other interesting personalities or partake in events. Higher levels of oxytocin are also known to have a positive effect on the healing abilities of the body, by exercising a powerful influence. In person meetings are always a better way of bonding than the new social media driven remote interactions. Similarly, pets are a great way of boosting oxytocin levels in the body. In addition to the calming effect of pets on humans, pets are known to encourage touch. This is in turn, another trigger for positive feelings and consequently, this boosts oxytocin levels in the body. By virtue of being common to mammals, the increase in oxytocin levels is not limited to only humans but also have an effect on the pets.
#3 Minerals – Important constituents in the body, minerals are involved in a large number of biochemical actions in the body. Deficiency in magnesium can result in lower oxytocin levels. Directly linked to neurotransmitter activity, magnesium is known have an optimizing effect on oxytocin. As we look at methods on how to increase oxytocin, it is necessary to understand that magnesium enhances oxytocin action at receptors, and is therefore important to ensure that the body receives adequate magnesium. The best sources of magnesium in food include dark chocolate, bananas and almonds. Additionally, magnesium levels in the body are also increased through salt baths, and intake of supplements at recommended dietary intake/dosage.
#4 Caffeine – Among the interesting ways of increasing oxytocin levels, caffeine ranks high, and additionally, it also creates an opportunity to socialize. As mentioned above, socializing helps boost oxytocin levels and the combined effect of caffeine with socializing helps drive oxytocin levels significantly higher. The effect of caffeine on oxytocin is primarily by exciting oxytocin expressing neurons. Consumption of coffee, or intake of caffeine tablets are an effective method of increase oxytocin levels in the body. However, the advantage of having coffee, is the additional option of setting the mood or creating the opportunity for increased socializing.
#5 Indulging in hedonistic actions – As we dive deeper and learn how to increase oxytocin levels, the effect of hedonistic actions on oxytocin levels are brought in to sharper focus. For instance, individuals taking a massage or taking part in activities that are considered as self indulgences are known to have higher levels of oxytocin. The sensation of touch and the ability to reduce stress that builds up in the body, makes massage a great way to increase oxytocin levels. It is important to note that massage for the purpose of feeling good is different from the intensive sessions. For instance, deep tissue massages and sports massages have specific desired outcomes, and the best option for increasing oxytocin levels is to settle for a light massage.
#6 Increase intake of dietary fats – The role of dietary fats in hormone production is clearly documented. By virtue of being a hormone as well as a neurotransmitter it is essential to ensure that dietary fat intake is adequate for maintaining hormone levels. Dietary fats include saturated fat and cholesterol. Food products that are rich in cholesterol include fatty fish, nuts and seeds. While it is a fact that too much of cholesterol is unhealthy, it is also necessary to ensure that the cholesterol levels are in the healthy range.
Prescribed as medication
With all the information about how to increase oxytocin levels in the body, it is time to look at another important fact. Oxytocin is also prescribed as a medication, and the injection is typically used to trigger borth contractions in pregnant mothers at the time of childbirth. The injections are also administered to strengthen the contractions in mothers and this is also known to help reduce the amount of bleeding during delivery. This is carefully administered under medical supervision as excessive levels of oxytocin can result in the uterus rupturing. The drug is generally used for inducing delivery or for assistance in terminating a miscarriage.
Use of oxytocin for therapy
The neurotransmitter is also used as a treatment regimen for autism, and various phobias apart from depression. In addition to being effective in helping improve interpersonal relations and the overall wellbeing of individuals, the chemical messenger finds widespread applications as medication for individuals diagnosed with neuropsychiatric conditions. The use of the neurotransmitter is known to help individuals overcome the fear and inhibition of social interaction and boost confidence levels in addition to building trust. The chemical messenger is also known to help individuals manage anger more effectively, thereby helping control aggression among individuals.
Benefits of oxytocin
With the information about about how to increase oxytocin levels in the body behind us, it is not out of place to look at additional benefits of the neurotransmitter. Interestingly, individuals experiencing or exhibiting negative behavior are known to have lower levels of oxytocin. For instance, research has proved that individuals with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and other pain related conditions, have lower levels of oxytocin. Consequently, individuals end up expressing more depression, anxiety or pain. Lower levels of oxytocin in healthy individuals is known to have a direct effect on the tolerance levels for pain. In other words individuals with lower oxytocin levels are unable to bear pain when compared with individuals with higher levels of oxytocin.
Symptoms that indicate lower levels of oxytocin
With the above information on how to increase oxytocin levels in the body dealing with the methods on increasing oxytocin levels, let us take a look at how to identify when an individual has lower levels of oxytocin. Common symptoms include a clear lack of interest in interacting socially, or diffidence in communicating with others. Lower self esteem and a depressed state of mid are also indications of low oxytocin levels. The social hormone has a direct effect on the ability of individuals to interact with others and the manner in which one socializes.
Similarly, pain thresholds are also an indicator of oxytocin levels, as mentioned earlier. Individuals with low oxytocin levels are known to have lower pain threshold, and the neurotransmitter is also inversely affected by cortisol levels. In other words, oxytocin levels reduce when cortisol levels spike and vice versa. This is precisely why individuals experiencing stress end up with feeling depressed. By ensuring that hormones are maintained at healthy levels, it is possible to keep stress at bay. In addition to oxytocin, other hormones are directly linked to the feel good factor – this includes dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. It is essential to keep hormones that are related to the overall well being, at the appropriate levels through ideal dietary intake and also partaking in relevant activities. This will help maintain health, and manage negative emotions and behavior more effectively, while improving positivity and social interactions.