At Autonomic Specialists we are finding oxytocin to be of increasing importance in patient well being. Because patients with chronic illness often become isolated due to disease progression, natural production of oxytocin is often greatly reduced. Restoring oxytocin levels can improve quality of life and may also increase response to treatment.
Unique Properties of Oxytocin
Oxytocin is a peptide hormone with unique properties in humans. Many of it’s effects have to do with social behavior leading to the colloquial description as the “love hormone”. Notwithstanding the important role of social interaction on human well being, oxytocin modulates the activity of the HPA axis1, improves gut function and improves tolerance to pain. Oxytocin relieves anxiety and fosters hopefulness. These characteristics may be brought to bear upon areas of dysfunction commonly associated with dysautonomia.
Many of the symptoms experienced by patients with dysautonomia result from dysfunction in the HPA axis. Additionally gut motility tends to be impaired, often leading to a complicating infection known as SIBO. Some forms of dysautonomia, such as the small fiber autonomic neuropathy associated with fibromyalgia can be associated with significant pain.
Increasing Oxytocin Levels Naturally and by Supplement
Disease progression often leads to increasing social isolation. When patients spend more and more time in an environment lacking stimuli, natural production of oxytocin can be greatly reduced2. When these conditions exist oxytocin may be increased through social activity or supplementation.
Oxytocin boosting activities are a possible avenue for relief of autonomic symptoms. Oxytocin is secreted in response to human touch3. Some of the stronger forms of stimulation for oxytocin are social interactions of various sorts. Hug therapy4 would be an example of an activity to improve wellness where oxytocin is an underlying mechanism.
Oxytocin can also be administered either orally or transnasally.
In addition to potential benefits to cortisol levels, HPA axis function, and gut function, oxytocin mediated increase in hopefulness may improve response to treatment.