In addition to all the interesting things oxytocin does to our brains, it also seems to be involved in helping us feel satiated after we eat.
When fat from food reaches the stomach, the stomach releases CCK, a hormone that travels up the vagus nerve to the brain, triggering a release of oxytocin. Oxytocin travels back down the vagus nerve and causes the smooth muscles of the stomach to contract, leading to that full feeling.
A new study found that oxytocin could treat some of the symptoms of Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that includes symptoms of social deficit similar to autism as well as constant hunger.
For a long time, I've believed that the same oxytocin release that makes the stomach contract also activates the social centers of the brain, explaining that deep connection between food and love -- and why we use eating, especially eating things like ice cream, to heal heartbreak or loneliness.
Maithé Tauber of the Centre de Référence du Syndrome de Prader-Willi, France, found that after a single dose of oxytocin, Prader-Willi patients experienced increased trust, decreased sadness and showed less disruptive behavior.
It also decreased how much they ate, according to Science.
This is excellent news for people with this syndrome. Before you go online to try to buy oxytocin to lose weight, remember that people with Prader-Willi have abnormalities in the production of oxytocin. You can get the same benefits from oxytocin-producing activities like cuddling, calling your mom (if you are close to her) or a moderate amount of vanilla fudge.
"Oxytocin may be useful to increase trust in others and decrease disruptive behaviours in patients with Prader-Willi syndrome: a randomised placebo-controlled trial in 24 patients"
Maithé Tauber, Carine Mantoulan, Pierre Copet, Joseba Jauregui, Genevieve Demeer, Gwenaëlle Diene, Bernadette Rogé, Virginie Laurier, Virginie Ehlinger, Catherine Arnaud, Catherine Molinas and Denise Thuilleaux
Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases