The Odd Poetry of Oxytocin
It Feels Great to Fight

Acupuncture for an Oxytocin Boost?

When we learn about the amazing benefits of oxytocin for health, happiness and connection, the natural response is, "How can I get more of it?"

Research on oxytocin has quickly moved from the study of its effects on pair bonding in simpler mammals to whether administering it to people in an inhalant can reduce the symptoms of psychological disorders such as social phobia and autism spectrum disorder.

That leaves those of us who don't have diagnosable disorders hanging. I suspect that the purveyors of oxytocin products over the internet are making money hand over fist. The only well-studied method of boosting our own endogenous oxytocin is to have great sex -- not always a possibility.

But there is another way, for the somewhat adventurous: acupuncture. (In California, it's not considered so adventurous -- many HMOs cover acupuncture. I've found it to be an excellent treatment for many things, such as recovering from flu.)

The folks at pointed out that the ancient art of acupuncture has identified "forbidden points" that are never to be stimulated during pregnancy. Stimulating these points can lead to miscarriage, they're taught. On the other hand, these points can also be used to encourage the start of labor when necessary, according to Peter of

Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg, one of the goddesses of oxytocin research (and author of The Oxytocin Factor), speculates in "Oxytocin -- a possible mediator of anti-stress effects induced by acupuncture?"  that the pain-relieving effects of acupuncture could be due to an oxytocin release.

A study from China showed that acupuncture caused a release of oxytocin in the brains of rats. See my previous post on this topic, Acupuncture Stimulates Oxytocin, for more.

So, there's very strong evidence that acupuncture on these points would stimulate the oxytocin response in anyone, making it a reliable way to feel more relaxed and more open to others.

If you're skeevish about the needles, you might try acupressure massage. These practitioners stimulate the acupuncture points with their fingers. You could also learn where these points are and massage them on yourself or on your partner. The possibilities are intriguing.