Now Oxytocin Gets Blamed for Everything
Coverage in Men's Health UK

Chili Peppers: Aphrodisiac or Cuddle Food?

In a recent comment, MR asked for help tracking down scientific references for the internet wisdom that eating chilis causes a release of oxytocin.

I'd always heard that chili and other spicy foods were good for, um, pepping up your sex drive. Makes intuitive sense: hot chili = hot sex, etc. So far, the only article I found said that injecting capsaicin, the "active" ingredient in chili, under the skin of mice reduced the number of oxytocin and vasopressin-producing neurons in their brains.

I believe the origin of this info is the undated article Hot Lover by Nina Planck. The article is mostly a charming and fun paean to the delights of cooking with chilis -- and eating them raw, in her case! Near the end, she makes the intriguing -- and provocative statement:

"... giving animals capsaicin, the chile drug, causes a massive release of oxytocin, far more than the oxytocin surge from eating just any food."

I emailed Nina, and she kindly responded, saying the info was from unpublished studies by Joseph Verbalis of Georgetown, who studies the role of oxytocin and vasopressin in appetite and water regulation.Paperback_Real_Food_Book

Planck is author of the very popular Real Food: What to Eat and Why. I love her take on food, which is basically, if you eat a variety of natural whole foods, you don't need to worry about what you eat. This is something I've done for years, piling on the butter and chewing the beef fat, and my cholesterol is awesome.

She also advocates for "real birth," that is, natural, non-industrial birth. I'm glad we have such a strong voice for the general goodness of eating and living simply and well.