The act of cuddling (as well as the act of sex, for that matter) releases a hormone in the body called oxytocin. Oxytocin is a powerful neurotransmitter that plays a tremendous role in the bonding between mates.
Besides making you feel all lovey-dovey, it turns out that oxytocin might help men lose weight by promoting better appetite control.
Increased appetite control
A study conducted by Harvard Medical School took a group of 25 men at an average age of 27 and assigned them randomly to self-administer a single dose of a synthetic oxytocin nasal spray or a placebo after a period of fasting. Thirteen of the men were considered to be a healthy weight, whereas the remaining 12 were overweight or obese.
One hour after their dosage had been self-administered, the men were offered double portioned breakfast options from a menu. The amount of calories consumed by each participant were then recorded by the researchers.
The findings were presented at The Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, where it was revealed that the nasal spray oxytocin was effective at decreasing the caloric intake of the men. It also was shown to improve metabolism. On average, the men consumed 122 fewer calories than the men who had taken a placebo. None of the participants reported experiencing any serious side effects.
“Further study is needed, but I think oxytocin is a promising treatment for obesity and its metabolic complications,” said lead investigator Elizabeth Lawson, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Other health benefits of the “love hormone”
To test the link between higher doses of oxytocin and higher levels of happiness, a study was conducted by the Claremont Graduate University. Lead researcher Paul Zak, Ph.D. brought together a group of 60 college students, all of them female, and had them complete a survey about their satisfaction with life and general outlook. Then he took blood samples after they had received a gift of money. They were given the option to return the money or to keep it.
The findings of the study showed that women who were more satisfied with their lives and generous to others had the higher levels of oxytocin. These same women were also found to be more trusting in general than those with lower oxytocin levels.
The women with higher oxytocin were also more likely to have had longer lasting relationships, and were better liked by others, in general.
A word of caution
There is not enough research yet regarding long-term use of oxytocin. “People are trying to treat autistic kids [with oxytocin] in the absence of [definitive] research,” said Sue Carter, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “We have no idea what the long-term consequences are. It’s a biological simulation model, not a pharmaceutical model.”
Aside from the lack of research, synthetic oxytocin is just that – synthetic. Why not try upping your levels naturally – next time you see a loved one today, grab them and give them a big hug!
-The Alternative Daily