Can acupuncture boost your oxytocin?
What is it?
Oxytocin is a hormone, produced in the hypothalmus and secreted into the bloodstream via the pituitary. One of its main roles is to facilitate the start of labour, the production of breast milk and promote maternal nuturing and calming behaviour. In more recent years it has come to be associated with helping us have positive social interactions, making us care about others and helping us to fall and stay in love.
Why is it so good for your health?
- It helps couples to stay together. Oxctocin helps establish attachment and trust, it creates sexual arousal and attraction and helps bring about an orgasm.
- It helps mothers go into labour, get through labour and helps new mums establish that bond in those early, often difficult days.
- It can help to heal wounds and injuries as it has anti inflammatory properties. It also helps the body to deal with pain and can improve muscles and bone strength.
- It can help with depression. Research showed that new mums with low oxytocin were more likely to feel depressed than those with higher levels.
- It’s ability to help us produce feelings of trust and connection mean it can help reduce our feelings of stress. It has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol and blood pressure, both of which start to rocket when we are experiencing stress.
Can acupuncture boost my oxytocin?
The simple act of touch and connection, both paramount in an acupuncture treatment, will help boost your oxytocin. Research has aso shown that acupuncture can help increase the production of oxytocin and needling could stimulate this. This could explain why acupuncture is so beneficial for inducing labour. It could also explain the pain relief many people experience through treatment.
Stroke your pet: scientists in Japan found that stroking your dog or cat can have a positive effect on your mood. In the study pet owners expereinced a burst of the hormone after just five minutes of playing with and stroking their pet. Research has gone on to show that having a pet and inducing these feelings means you are much less likely to have a heart attack and if you do have a heart attack you’re four times more likely to survive.
Emmerse yourself sensory experiences: favourite smells, foods, sounds, thoughts and memories can release oyytocin into the body. Just the simple act of recalling good thoughts/memories, looking through photos, reminiscing and remembering happy times are all good ways to do this.
Eat chocolate: this can cause a huge release of oxytocin, far more than other foods. As the gut digests fats it releases CKK (a digestive hormone) which travels to the brain and triggers te oxytocin, which travels back to the stomach and causes the stomacb walls to contract and hence feel full and satisfied. Fatty foods make the stomach release higher levels of CKK which is maybe why we comfort eat on high fats rather than green veg.
Have sex: sex is the best way to flood our bloodstream with oxytocin. Not only that but more oxytocin makes us feel more aroused and more attracted to our partner.
Join a choir: University of Ontario found that singing increases the blood levels of oxytocin, as well as increasing immunity, reducing depression and increasing overall feelings of well being.
Get a massage: studies have shown that just 15 minutes of massage is enough to significantly increase your oxytocin levels. In fact any form of touch or one to one human contact is enough to get the hormone flowing. Look less at screens and more at people!