Can acupuncture boost your oxytocin?

What is it?
Oxytocin is a hormone, produced in the hypothalamus 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 to promote maternal nurturing 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. Oxytocin 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 the ability to help us produce feelings of trust and connection means 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 also 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.

Anything else?
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 experienced 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.