Diet, Weight Loss & Nutrition

Oxytocin for Weight Loss

Dr. Ryan Shelton Headshot
By Dr. Ryan Shelton, NMD

The touch of another human being is an incredibly powerful thing, capable of eliciting an extremely vast array of emotions near instantly. No other animal uses touch quite like humans. We have a myriad of complex gestures to identify our feelings with others, we shake hands to greet or congratulate one another, and studies even show that children deprived of touching actually have a greater propensity for violence.

The psychologist James W. Prescott identified a link between mother/child physical bonding and lifelong emotional disturbances, noting that children whose mothers did not adequately bond with them may experience lifelong emotional disturbances.

The sense of touch is not just great for bonding, but studies show that it can also be an integral part of a great diet plan, helping you to lose weight more effectively.

Scientists have been researching the chemical reactions that take place inside the body during physical contact. When we touch others, a stream of hormones circulate through the body, one of which is called oxytocin, a hormone produced in the magnocellular neurosecretory cells of the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei, and is stored in Herring bodies at the axon terminals in the posterior pituitary.

During moments of intimacy, the pituitary gland releases oxytocin into the bloodstream. Oxytocin affects many parts of the body, including the breasts and uterus, and as a chemical messenger in the brain controlling various key aspects of the reproductive system like childbirth and lactation, but can also affect certain aspects of human behavior.

As for weight loss, studies show that this unique hormone can also stimulate the body to lose weight more effectively. Studies show that when used as a weight loss treatment, usually via a nasal spray, participants were likely to eat fewer calories, leading to weight loss.

Studies show lower levels of oxytocin in obese individuals versus normal versus those with a healthier weight. In addition, circulating oxytocin has been found to be lower in those with type-2 diabetes versus normoglycemic individuals.

Because of its connection to human emotion, touch, and our expression of love, oxytocin has been referred to as the “love hormone”. Studies show that those with more circulating oxytocin simply eat less.

This may be some kind of evolutionarily necessary reaction to being attractive for your mate, or it may be as simple as the age old idea that love can make a person sick, including widely documented loss of appetite. Now you know why you just don’t have the desire to eat as much when you’re in love.

Oxytocin also works by helping to curb some of the psychological triggers that can cause many to partake in emotionally-based eating. Emotions often cause us to treat our negative feelings with food, which is why it is called emotional eating.

Oxytocin can help with emotional eating as well, not only helping to curb appetite, but to trigger those happy thoughts you get while you’re being touched or cuddling.

A recent study published in the July 2016 edition of the journal Endocrine Practice, researched oxytocin’s ability to produce weight loss. For this study, scientists used a nasal spray to deliver oxytocin to the participants.

In this this double-blind study, caloric intake was indeed reduced for the 85 participants receiving oxytocin treatments. Calories were reduced by about 122 kcal per 24 ul of oxytocin treatment. The study proceeded for 9 weeks, producing an average of 9kg of weight loss per participant.

Researchers also found that a complimentary side-effect of oxytocin treatments was reduced postprandial –the period after a meal- glucose and insulin levels.

Another interesting effect being studied is oxytocin’s ability to help the body burn fat more efficiently. Some studies show that oxytocin can increase lipid utilization, essentially boosting the body’s fat burning potential.

A growing base of evidence supports the theory that oxytocin is vital in the regulation of energy balance in the body. Published in the American Journal of Physiology, researchers found a distinct tie between oxytocin and its ability to help the body burn fat.

When administered to rat being fed a high fat diet, oxytocin “elicited a sustained reduction of fat mass with no decrease of lean mass in rats with established diet-induced obesity.”

These results are not simply related to the ability of oxytocin to curb appetite either, scientists observed that these effects resulted from:

Maintenance of energy expenditure at preintervention levels despite ongoing weight loss
A reduction in respiratory quotient, consistent with increased fat oxidation
An enhanced satiety response to cholecystokinin-8 and associated decrease of meal size.
The body continued burning fat at a higher rate for approximately 10 days after treatment subsided.

If decreased appetite and increased fat burning aren’t enough to convince you of the power of the love hormone, how about its ability to regulate bone mass?

The relationship between fat and our skeleton, is a tight one. You might even say that they’re like best buds. Oxytocin, due to its regulation of energy metabolism can directly regulate bone mass as well. Studies show that mice with insufficient oxytocin or the oxytocin receptor display severe osteopenia, a condition that occurs when the body doesn’t make new bone as quickly as it reabsorbs old bone.

One study contends that oxytocin administration “normalizes ovariectomy-induced osteopenia, bone marrow adiposity, body weight, and intra-abdominal fat depots in mice.”

Losing a little weight can benefit many aspects of life, from mobility, to happiness and self-satisfaction, to internal health and avoidance of chronic diseases like type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and with over 78 million Americans considered overweight, the current weight loss options we’re trying are clearly ineffective.

Oxytocin represents a great new possibility for safe, effective, and consistent weight loss without the side-effects of harmful medication or over-the-counter stimulants.

If you’re looking for the latest trend in weight loss aids, perhaps look no further than human contact. The powerful hormone oxytocin is simple to use, normally administered via a nasal spray, and unlike other invasive, pharmaceutical weight loss aids, oxytocin thus far exhibits very little or no side-effects, making it safe and effective for long term use.

By Dr. Ryan Shelton

Dr. Ryan Shelton, N.D.
Zenith Labs®



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