But this isn’t the only study to show the subtle side of oxytocin. Just three months ago, I wrote about research from Heejung Kim at the University of California, which showed how oxytocin’s effects vary across different cultures. To fulfil its many roles, oxytocin has to dock at a protein called the ‘oxytocin receptor’, encoded by a gene called OXTR.
Again, the three groups of mice were exposed to the stressful experience of social defeat in the cages of other more aggressive mice. This time, six hours after the social stress, the mice were put in a box in which they received a brief electric shock, which startles them but is not painful. Then 24 hours later, the mice were returned to the same box but did not receive a shock.
5-HTP is sold over the counter in the United States, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom as a dietary supplement for use as an antidepressant, appetite suppressant, and sleep aid. It is also marketed in many European countries for the indication of major depression under the trade names Cincofarm, Levothym, Levotonine, Oxyfan, Telesol, Tript-OH, and Triptum.