Heal by Love
The story of oxytocin
As human beings, we are highly social creatures who touch each other more than often. Our brain is designed to facilitate social bonding for survival. Simply because touch increases cooperative behaviours. On each and every physical contact we experience, our brain releases the neuropeptide oxytocin. And the other name of oxytocin is “the love hormone”.
Hugs, massage, affection, social interaction, they all stimulate the production of oxytocin. The same hormone secreted by a mother to bond to her baby.
A two way conversation
Physical isolation has been shown to reduce brain oxytocin levels. When oxytocin levels decrease, mood disorders such as anxiety and depression increase.
Conversely, more circulating oxytocin has been found to protect against psychological and physiological impact of social isolation.
But there is a lot more to circulating oxytocin.
How you look and feel – The Oxytocin Ballad
- Have you been feeling tempered at the moment? Oxytocin improves stress buffering response
- Did you reduce your physical activity? Oxytocin preserves muscle strength
- Are your concern with your immune status? Oxytocin is a cofactor of immune tolerance and generalized immune system balance
- Do you feel you struggle more when in isolation than any other form of stress? Oxytocin reduces social anxiety and increases the feeling of connection
- Do you feel your mind is racing? Oxytocin regulates the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid), called “the human brain pacifier”
- Are you attracted more often to your fridge and pantry? Oxytocin modulates cravings and addictive behaviours.
I bet you want more – 3 steps to increase circulating oxytocin
- Good Gut Health
Some of your gut microbes stimulate their host oxytocin. If you are suffering for dysbiosis, it is time to discover or re-discover the traditional fermented food. Fermented, non-pasteurized, food will contribute to your gut microbial diversity. Kefir is my preferred option. It does increase oxytocin levels and provide significant immune-modulating properties.
Some specific strains of orally taken probiotics also boost oxytocin levels. Psychobiotics are beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that
influence the gut-brain axis and exert a beneficial effect on mood, cognitive function and behaviour.Your microbiome is unique and your gut health impacts you more than your think!
Whatever the method, I do always recommend you get a variety of (fermented) food to increase the biodiversity of your gut microbiome.
- Beneficial Breathing
Another powerful way to stimulate oxytocin production is to connect to your heart. In the new field of neuro cardiology, researchers have found that the heart, as an hormonal gland, produces oxytocin.
The primary conscious access you have to your heart function is through your breath. Studies show that the practice of heart coherence limits the impact of physical isolation by increasing oxytocin secretion.
Practicing a breathing technique three times a day for five minutes is what I do recommend to most of the women I’m working with. It’s a powerful too that give your power back.
- Connection in Isolation
Oxytocin increases generosity and empathy. It also improves our feelings of social wellbeing, love, spirituality and satisfying life experiences. In times we feel disconnected and ungrounded, having some tools to increase our oxytocin levels is paramount for our physical, mental and social health.