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Monday, March 1, 2010

Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies Archives

by Linda Fehrs, LMT

When we learn about the hormone oxytocin in most anatomy and physiology classes, we are instructed with reference to its importance during and just after a mother giving birth. We are told it helps with uterine contractions during labor and that it facilitates the "letting-down" or expression of milk from the mammary glands. We are also told it is released in the baby's body to ease the stress of entering the birth canal during the delivery process. Beyond that, textbooks say little else.

In recent years, though, there are those who have been studying and uncovering more about oxytocin and its effects beyond childbirth. Long thought to have something to do with the bonding between mother and child during the first few weeks and months of life, this attachment was thought, at least in part, to be a natural outcome of the physical and psychological connections developed during breast-feeding and cuddling. Until fairly recently, little attention has been given to the chemical effects of the hormone itself…

Reducing Anxiety - Clinical trials using oxytocin sprays have been shown to reduce anxiety and ease symptoms of shyness. It seems to reduce timidity and may help to increase confidence, leading to improved healthy social interaction.

Additionally, oxytocin counters the effects of cortisol, a stress hormone, which, if over long periods of time is produced in high levels in the body, can lead to high blood pressure, lowered immune function and even clinical depression. Sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have been found to have higher than normal levels of cortisol, and studies with regard to the effectiveness in massage and oxytocin production to reduce cortisol levels are being considered…

Institute for Integrative Healthcare Studies Archives

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