Reduces feelings of stress and anxiety
Regulates appetite and improves self-control
Promotes feelings of social connection and trust
Oxytocin is a small six amino acid peptide that functions as a hormone and signaling molecule. Oxytocin has been called the “love hormone” or “trust hormone” because of its association with relationships, whether romantic or social. Blood oxytocin levels increase during sexual arousal and orgasm and during childbirth. Oxytocin release helps partners connect, whether romantic partners or parents and children.
Oxytocin levels are increased during physical contact, sexual arousal, and orgasm in both men and women. Intranasal oxytocin increases the intensity of orgasm and feelings of commitment after sex. Oxytocin may also be involved in feelings of empathy and a sense of well-being. Researchers are studying its effects on autism and other neuropsychological disorders.
Researchers are investigating the role of oxytocin in reducing food intake and decreasing impulsive behavior. Studies show that oxytocin reduces caloric consumption and is involved in several eating behaviors. Oxytocin seems to respond to signals from the gastrointestinal tract and energy stores. It acts on reward, homeostasis, and control systems in the brain to reduce calorie intake, especially for more-palatable foods.
Clinical studies also show that oxytocin increases fat breakdown, which induces weight loss separately from its effect on calorie intake. More clinical trials are underway to further explore oxytocin’s weight-loss benefits.
In animal studies, oxytocin also seems to reverse declines in muscle strength and mass associated with aging in both men and women. These findings are exciting for their potential anti-aging benefits.
Intranasal oxytocin administration seems to be an effective way to deliver oxytocin directly to the brain. Oxytocin in the brain is produced by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that controls many functions that are essential to life. Oxytocin is stored in the posterior pituitary gland until it is released into the bloodstream.
Oxytocin, delivered by nasal spray, travels to the brain by following nerve fibers that connect the nose and the brain. While only a small amount of oxytocin travels to the brain, the concentration seems to be high enough to be physiologically relevant. Once in the brain, oxytocin can have several effects on social behavior, pain management, impulse control, and mood.
Oxytocin is produced in the hypothalamus in the brain. It has an effect on brain regions that regulate emotions (limbic system and amygdala). Oxytocin also acts on brain circuits that promote social bonding and affiliation with others.
Oxytocin is released from the pituitary gland in response to stress. Oxytocin is an anxiolytic. It decreases anxiety and the body’s response to stress.
Oxytocin has many effects on the brain and what is known about its benefits seems to be just the tip of the iceberg. Researchers have studied oxytocin for its pro-social benefits, but its actual benefits on humans are far-reaching controlling mood, sexual behavior, metabolism, and eating behaviors.
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Oxytocin is a hormone that is released during childbirth, breastfeeding, sex, or after a hug or a cuddle with someone you have bonded with socially. For example, oxytocin helps bind parents to children and romantic partners with each other.
Oxytocin is released in the brain when sensory nerves are activated during labor, breastfeeding, or sex. It can also be released with more superficial stimulation like stroking or hugging. Oxytocin may also be released after exercise or listening to music. It is being studied to treat conditions such as depression, autism spectrum disorder, and drug addiction. Researchers are working on better understanding this important hormone.
Experts report that dysfunctional oxytocin signaling may lead to weight gain. This finding, along with recent research that shows that oxytocin may help modulate appetite and reduce cravings, has made oxytocin a potential therapeutic used to treat overweight and obesity.
Several research studies have demonstrated oxytocin’s ability to modulate appetite and reduce cravings.
Oxytocin can cause weight loss by:
Oxytocin decreases food and calorie consumption by reducing the appeal of foods that are high in fat and calories.
Oxytocin has antidiuretic effects which means that you may notice some water retention. However, the effect is expected to be significantly less with oxytocin nasal spray than with intravenous forms of oxytocin.
The primary side effect associated with oxytocin is a change in heart rate. Changes in heart rate can occur as a response to changes in blood pressure or to changes in fluid volume. Since oxytocin is delivered as a nasal spray it may cause watery eyes, irritation to the inner lining of the nose, or a runny nose.
Any substance has the potential to trigger the immune system and an allergic reaction. What will trigger your immune system to react is determined by your genetic predisposition and environmental exposures. Oxytocin is considered to be an uncommon cause of allergic reactions. Most of the research on oxytocin and its side effects was done using intravenous oxytocin during childbirth.
Oxytocin is released during childbirth, breastfeeding, and contact with a romantic partner. It is also released after positive physical and emotional contact with another person. Oxytocin has a calming effect that promotes feelings of well-being and satisfaction. However, it cannot make you think or feel something that you don’t. Oxytocin may enhance feelings that are already part of your personality.