Many of us are interested in how we can boost our natural supply of oxytocin. Oxytocin is essential to the feeling of love and connectedness; it's also essential to our general health.
Oxytocin flowing through our veins helps counteract stress while promoting relaxation and healing. So, there's a connection between love -- and any positive interaction with others -- and good health.
It seems likely that acupuncture, which also aims to promote healing and balance, activates the oxytocin system.
Here is a very interesting study from China showing that in rats, acupuncture releases oxytocin into the central nervous system. (The study is published in Neuropeptides, by the way, a highly respected scientific journal in the U.S.) Thanks to Acupuncture.com.au for posting the information.
In the study, researchers at the Guangdong Bangmin Pharmaceutical Co. found that injecting oxytocin into the brains of rats increased the analgesic effects of acupuncture. Injecting a substance that blocked the effects of oxytocin into their brains, on the other hand, reduced the pain-killing effects of acupuncture.
Therefore, it's likely that acupuncture reduces pain by causing the release of oxytocin in rats -- and, likely, in humans.
We can guess, moreover, that in general, acupuncture causes a release of oxytocin, which calms the brain's anxiety circuits while cooling off the effects of cortisol in the bloodstream.
Update, December 25, 2007: Peter, who administrates Acupuncture.com.au, tells me his partner has successfully brought on labor by using acupuncture to stimulate points that release oxytocin.