Oxytocin was first found in relation to childbirth more than a century ago. Oxytocin is a hormone released during labor and breastfeeding that has a role in a mother’s bonding with her infant.
Aside from its physiological functions during childbirth, oxytocin works as a neuropeptide in the brain and regulates social behavior.
We now know that oxytocin influences emotional behaviors like partner bonding, group bonding, sexual behavior, social empathy, reward sensitivity, stress control, trust, and appetite. It’s known as the ‘love hormone,’ which is why it’s not surprising that it’s released in large amounts at the outset of a romantic relationship, and that this “release” is a component in creating pair bonding.
The hypothalamus is where the tiny oxytocin molecule is produced. It sends a message by binding to the oxytocin receptor on neurons. Oxytocin regulates a variety of physiological processes when it interacts to the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR).
The OXTR gene is included in the Genewell test.
If your result of the OXTR gene (rs53576) is:
- G/G: it means you tend to have more oxytocin, is more empathetic, optimistic, seeks and gives emotional support, have altered cortisol levels and altered blood pressure with social rejection
- A/A: you are not as empathetic, more anti-social with groups, less sensitive to social rejection (more resilient), has higher fasting glucose and adolescents carrying this variant are more at risk for obesity
(References: doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0131820; doi: 10.2147/DMSO.S226245; https://www.nature.com/articles/s41366-021-00876-5, doi: 10.1093/scan/nsu166)
Does oxytocin have anything to do with weight?
The brain is in charge of appetite. Not only does the brain manage our desire to eat, but it also controls the reward feedback that encourages us to seek out certain meals again and again. This is when oxytocin enters the picture. When a person eats, oxytocin is released in the hypothalamus, an area of the brain. According to studies, giving people oxytocin nasal spray before a meal reduces the amount of food consumed and the amount of time they desire to sit and eat. It especially reduces the intake of sugary carbs in particular and can reduce chocolate cookie intake by up to 25%.
Looking to change your oxytocin levels? Here are several ways that research shows to alter your levels.
- Petting a dog can increase both the human and dog oxytocin levels.
- Creativity has links to oxytocin levels. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that intranasal oxytocin “reduced analytical reasoning, and increased holistic processing, divergent thinking, and creative performance.”
- Try Yoga: This wellness practice has numerous advantages, including depression and other mood problems are relieved with reduced anxiety and stress.
- Cuddle or hug: Physical intimacy, such as cuddling or hugging, can also cause your body to produce oxytocin. Hugs, handholding, and snuggling are all effective methods.
- A better night’s sleep increased one’s quality of life.
- Massage and relaxation techniques
- Listening to music may increase oxytocin levels.
- Loving-kindness meditation may increase your oxytocin levels.
Go on…. if you want to know your partner’s predisposition to empathy or how he or she will respond in social settings, order a Genewell test today!