Oxytocin Peptide Hormone
Oxytocin, otherwise known as OT, is a 9-amino acid peptide which contains a sulfur bridge between the two cysteines. According to studies, Oxytocin peptide hormone is stored and released from the posterior pituitary gland, a tiny structure at the base of the brain. OT peptide plays a role in complex social behaviors such as social recognition, affiliation, sexual behavior, aggression, and trust. It also regulates a great number of reproduction-related processes in both human and animal species.
In this article, we intend to provide you with the most accurate and scientifically-approved information about oxytocin. Continue reading to learn more about Oxytocin hormone, its uses, and its side effects.
What is Oxytocin?
Oxytocin definition: a hormone that acts as a neurotransmitter and plays a vital role in social behaviors and reproduction.
Known as a nonapeptide, oxytocin contains nine amino acids. The oxytocin peptide sequence is: cysteine – tyrosine – isoleucine – glutamine – asparagine – cysteine – proline – leucine – glycine (CYIQNCPLG).
Circulating oxytocin peptide is essential during parturition and lactation. The peptide oxytocin and the oxytocin receptor play an important role for the induction of labor. However, the OT hormone also plays a role in a range of social behaviors. In fact, that’s why it’s universally known as the ‘love hormone.’
According to recent scientific research[i], Oxytocin functions include affecting sexual activity, milk ejection, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, stress, trust, generosity, and overall bonding.
Research suggests that OT produces vasodilation of vascular smooth muscle and increases coronary, renal, and cerebral blood flow.
Is Oxytocin a Peptide?
Oxytocin is a peptide and a hormone secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland.
Often deemed the ‘cuddle hormone,’ oxytocin releases when two individuals’ bond socially or touch.
Ever wondered why you get a sudden rush of happiness just from playing with your dog?
According to a 2009 study, something as simple as playing with your pet can cause an oxytocin surge, leading to a stronger feeling of happiness and connection.
Research shows that oxytocin peptide also intensifies memories of poor bonding, such as in cases where people have bad relationships with their parents. OT hormone, on the other hand, can also make people less accepting of others they perceive as outsiders.
To sum up, oxytocin effects depend largely on the environment.
How Does Oxytocin Affect Males and Females?
Healthy oxytocin levels in males and females are important for both genders in order for the mind and body to function optimally. Still, you should be aware that oxytocin effects on males is different to that of females. Particularly in social contexts, the effects differ quite a lot.
This is due to the hormone acting differently in the male and female amygdala, the part of your brain responsible for emotion, reward, and motivation.
For instance, oxytocin in females may determine how the gender identifies who to befriend. Oxytocin in males, however, may play a role in the way men identify competitive relationships.
Oxytocin in Women
The Oxytocin hormone for women plays an important role. As per Larry Young, a behavioral neuroscientist at Emory University in Atlanta, “Oxytocin is a peptide produced in the brain that was first recognized for its role in the birth process, and also in nursing.”
OT causes the uterine contractions during labor. It’s also responsible for shrinking the uterus post-delivery. Even the simple suckling of the mother’s breast stimulates the release of oxytocin, causing the body to deliver milk for the baby to drink.
This peptide also promotes mother-child bonding. Research shows that female rats are indifferent to pups if they are virgins, whereas female rats who give birth find the pups irresistible due to the rewiring of the brain. According to Young, humans have exhibited similar signs.
In 2007, a study published in the journal Psychological Science discovered that the higher a mother’s oxytocin levels, the higher the likelihood she would engage in bonding behaviors such as bathing her baby. There are some interesting effects of oxytocin because it plays such a vital role in our behaviors.
Of course, that doesn’t mean maternal bonding can’t be hardwired. However, it does mean that oxytocin release during pregnancy triggers feelings of connectedness to the infant.
Studies additionally show that interacting with a baby causes an increase in the infant’s own oxytocin levels.
Oxytocin in men
Just like in women, oxytocin also facilitates bonding in men.
A 2012 study found that dads who used oxytocin nasal spray played more closely with their 5-month-old babies than those who didn’t get the oxytocin hormone boost.
In another study, back in 2010, men took a dose of oxytocin and described their relationship with their mothers in writing. The men with good relationships described their mothers as more caring following Oxytocin use, whereas those with unsecure relationships actually viewed their moms as less caring. This confirms that Oxytocin strengthens previous associations, regardless of whether they are positive or negative.
“It connects brain areas involved in processing social information — whether it’s sights, faces, sounds or smells — and helps link those areas to the brain’s reward system,” explains Young.
Oxytocin Peptide Benefits
While oxytocin supplementation and injection may be used for research purposes only, there’s no doubt that this hormone peptide offers some incredible effects on the human body.
There are a number of benefits of Oxytocin peptide hormone. Scroll down to read all about them.
Oxytocin Promotes Attachment
The effects of Oxytocin on attachment is powerful. As mentioned previously, studies showed that pregnant women with high levels of oxytocin during their first trimester had a closer attachment to their babies upon birth.
Research have connected these high oxytocin levels to a deeper connection with their babies.
Oxytocin Eases Stress
According to studies, research carried out on prairie voles showed that those separated from their siblings expressed signs of stress, depression and anxiety that declined after oxytocin injection.
Presented at a 2007 meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, the study indicated the hormone’s effects were more powerful under stressful situations.
Oxytocin Facilitates Childbirth
Oxytocin is released in large amounts during childbirth. It intensifies the uterine contracts that open the cervix and enables the baby to come through.
Since the early 1900s, physicians have been using synthetic oxytocin to induce labor. After birth, OT continues to stimulate contractions that discourage hemorrhaging. Further oxytocin is released when the nipples are stimulated.
Oxytocin Enhances Sexual Arousal
According to a 2001 study, scientists observed spontaneous erections in rats after oxytocin was injected into their cerebrospinal fluid. A range of brain chemicals (including oxytocin!) are releasing in men during ejaculation. Often, these chemicals increase bonding between sexual partners, but not everyone has the same experience.
For example, individuals who get into the sensualness of hugging will experience a release of oxytocin. Those who do not, on the other hand, may not release the oxytocin love hormone.
A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that inhaling oxytocin drastically improved the ability of individuals with autism to interact with others.
Previous research[ii] has indicated that people with autism suffer from lower oxytocin levels. However, researchers say that Oxytocin as an autism treatment can be extremely effective – particularly in reducing the autist persons’ fear of others. From what research has uncovered, Oxytocin autism effects look extremely promising.
Oxytocin Encourages Restful Sleep
As per a 2003 study in the journal Regulatory Peptides, Oxytocin released in the brain naturally promotes sleep. That’s because oxytocin counters the effects of cortisol – the well-known stress hormone – and promotes a calming effect, enabling users to sleep better and more peacefully.
Oxytocin Lessens Drug Cravings
As far back as 1999, studies indicated that Oxytocin could reduce drug cravings. Allegedly, Oxytocin hormone supplementation inhibits the tolerance to addictive drugs including cocaine, opiates, and alcohol. It can also reduce withdrawal symptoms. Those cravings are eased with oxytocin hormone.
Oxytocin Peptide Effects on Diabetes
New evidence[iii] suggests that oxytocin enhances glucose uptake by boosting insulin sensitivity. Studies revealed that oxytocin deficiencies lead to obesity despite normal food intake and increased leptin levels. Plasma oxytocin is also notably lower in obese people with diabetes, indicating a connection between oxytocin and the pathogenesis of cardiometabolic disease.
Recent scientific studies revealed that intranasal oxytocin administration was associated with significant weight loss, along with insulin sensitivity improvements.
This suggests that oxytocin diabetes treatment could be an effective one thanks to its therapeutic target in obesity and diabetes management.
Oxytocin Muscle Growth Effects
According to UC Berkeley researchers, oxytocin can promote healthy muscle maintenance and repair. The study found that oxytocin for muscle wasting or sarcopenia could be effective as a treatment.
Oxytocin is required for proper muscle tissue regeneration and that plasma levels of oxytocin decrease with age. Studies found[iv] that when research subjects were administered with oxytocin, muscle regeneration improved.
Thus, oxytocin for muscle growth could be a potential treatment for muscle wastage diseases.
Do You Have Oxytocin Deficiency?
Oxytocin hormone function has an effect on relationships, trust, sexual arousal, and overall wellness. Low levels of oxytocin peptide can have many negative impacts on your emotional wellbeing. Oxytocin hormone deficiency is even related to a number of chronic health problems.
Experts say there are a number of symptoms of oxytocin deficiency. Some of them you might have put down to social anxiety or depression, but there’s a chance you may just have too little of the love hormone.
Let’s take a look at oxytocin deficiency signs.
Oxytocin is also often referred to as the ‘social hormone’ because oxytocin hormone release encourages social interaction. Those who have social anxiety or are introverted may have low oxytocin levels.
Communication is Getting Harder
High oxytocin levels are related to close relationships. According to a study in the journal Biological Psychiatry, 47 couples were given either oxytocin or a placebo prior to a couple conflict session. Results showed that those who took the oxytocin had increased position communication behavior compared to those who received the placebo.
You’re Never in the Mood
It’s a fact that women who are deficient in oxytocin are more likely to have a low libido and struggle to achieve orgasm.
Because oxytocin increases feelings of love and closeness, it also boosts sexual arousal. Whereas a lack of oxytocin depletes feelings of sexual desire.
You Can’t Trust Anybody
Did you know oxytocin is also related to trust? Too little oxytocin can bring on feelings of distrust towards your spouse, friends, and family. According to Paul Zack, researcher at Claremont Graduate University, college students who received oxytocin intranasally displayed more signs of trust towards those around them.
You’ve Got Sugar on the Brain
When oxytocin cells are lessened, your body seeks sweetness for comfort. Research shows that reduced activity in the brain’s anorexigenic oxytocin system can be caused by binging on sugar. In other words, increasing your oxytocin dosage can help stunt those sugar cravings and end the sugar-binging cycle once and for all.
Side Effects of Oxytocin Peptide Hormone
Oxytocin is a safe peptide. Overall, oxytocin side effects are minimal. However, researchers have found potential side effects of the hormone including: seizures, increased heart rate, heightened blood pressure, impaired uterine blood flow, and postpartum hemorrhage.
The main downside of oxytocin is that while it can enhance bonding, it can encourage favoritism and prejudice. According to scientists, the peptide hormone oxytocin has been linked to feelings of envy and dishonesty. This is why more research needs to be carried out on this hormone in order to better understand its implications.
Overall, the effects of oxytocin are still favorable and can ease a number of symptoms in people with social anxiety issues, diabetes, and even childbirth. In most cases, negative effects of oxytocin are very rare.
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