Guastella and his team just completed an unpublished study that is the first to test the effects of oxytocin on couples in therapy. In one part of the study, couples were asked to discuss a “hot topic,” one that usually led to conflict between the pair, and to then try to solve the issue. Although the data analysis is still in progress, Guastella expects couples that got oxytocin to show less hostile interpretations of the problem and be less critical of their partners. He thinks overall it will increase perspective-taking and reduce blame, leading to smoother communication and better problem-solving.
Established immortalized human PDLCs  that maintain the characteristics of primary PDLCs by transfecting human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) were used. These cell line were kindly provided by Professor Takashi Takata (Hiroshima University, Japan). Cells were cultured in α-MEM supplemented with 10% FBS, 100 U/mL penicillin, and 100 μg/mL streptomycin in a humidified atmosphere of 5% CO2 at 37°C. For the experiments, the cells were seeded into culture dishes and then cultured in α-MEM containing 10% FBS for 2 days until 70% confluent, and, then, the media was replaced by serum-free medium in order to minimize any serum-induced effects on PDLCs. Subsequently, the cells were exposed to H2O2 and human Tβ4 peptide (RegeneRx Biopharmaceuticals Inc., Rockville, MD). All treatments were performed in triplicate and approved by the local ethics committee.
"By understanding the oxytocin system's dual role in triggering or reducing anxiety, depending on the social context, we can optimize oxytocin treatments that improve well-being instead of triggering negative reactions," said Jelena Radulovic, the senior author of the study and the Dunbar Professsor of Bipolar Disease at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The paper was published July 21 in Nature Neuroscience.
In the prairie vole, oxytocin released into the brain of the female during sexual activity is important for forming a pair bond with her sexual partner. Vasopressin appears to have a similar effect in males. Oxytocin has a role in social behaviors in many species, so it likely also does in humans. In a 2003 study, both humans and dog oxytocin levels in the blood rose after five to 24 minutes of a petting session. This possibly plays a role in the emotional bonding between humans and dogs.
People are using 5-HTP for absolutely everything from sleep disorders to OCD symptoms. After asking people in mental health Facebook groups whether they used it and why, I was inundated with responses. Sach Tennant, from London, takes it for her PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder). "I only take it when I feel low and it only takes one hour to feel calm," she told me. "This month I only needed one to feel better. I don't get the zombie antidepressant feeling – you still have your emotions. Sleep is good on it. I used to have an inner voice that was male and used to bully me during PMT time. Noises seemed too loud, even like somebody eating a bag of crisps. Topping up with 5-HTP has stopped all this."
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A study published last year in Biological Psychiatry was the first to assess whether people with variations in their oxytocin-receptor gene have a harder time maintaining romantic relationships than those who don’t. Hasse Walum, a graduate student at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and his colleagues took advantage of Swedish twin studies that included thousands of participants, their genetic information and their answers to questions about how affectionate they were with their romantic partners. They found that women with a specific variation weren’t as close to their partners as women without it: they kissed their partners less and didn’t desire physical proximity as often. These women were also more likely to report having had a marital crisis. Although researchers don’t know exactly how this variation affects the oxytocin system, it may result in a lower number of oxytocin receptors in the brain. People with fewer receptors would be less sensitive to the hormone’s effects.
To determine the effects of Tβ4 peptide and H2O2 on cytotoxicity, its cell viability was evaluated. A 48-h exposure to 0.1–5 μg/mL Tβ4 peptide did not affect H2O2-mediated cell viabilities (Fig 2A). In order to examine whether Tβ4 peptide suppressed ROS-induced inflammatory mediators, the ability of Tβ4 peptide on production of NO and PGE2, and expressions of COX-2 and iNOS were measured by RT-PCR, Western blot, and ELISA. Pretreatment with Tβ4 peptide dose-dependently inhibited H2O2-induced mRNA and protein expressions of COX-2 and iNOS, and NO and PGE2 production (Fig 2B–2E).
The RANKL and OPG have been identified as a key regulatory component of alveolar bone loss associated with inflammatory periodontal disease . Moreover, PDLCs were shown to express several osteoclastogenic cytokines, including both OPG and RANKL [30, 31]. Our data demonstrated that Tβ4 peptide abolished H2O2-induced RANKL expression and restored OPG expression. Osteoclasts, bone-resorptive multinucleated cells derived from hematopoietic stem cells, are associated with osteolytic diseases. Furthermore, NFATc1, a master modulator of osteoclastogenesis, regulates target genes, such as cathepsin K and calcitonin receptor or Calcr . In our in vitro study using BMMs, Tβ4 peptide directly and indirectly inhibited RANKL-induced osteoclast differentiation and expression of osteoclast markers, such as cathepsin-K, calcitonin receptor or Calcr, NFATc1, and RANK in BMM cells. These results indicated that Tβ4 was a key therapeutic target in controlling inflammation-induced bone loss.
If you were to go on the internet, read the hype, you'd probably think it'll be something like having an ecstasy tablet or having an orgasm or something like that, but the reality is you probably wouldn't be able to distinguish it from placebo. So the effects are extremely subtle. Now, that subtlety isn't necessarily because of oxytocin itself being a subtle hormone, it's just this issue of it penetrating the brain. So when you take it intranasally, we're still trying to work out how much gets into the brain, but probably only a vanishingly small amount.
James Bates* who recently started taking it for panic attacks, said, "A friend who had anxiety recommended 5-HTP to me. I used to take beta-blockers and Valium but the doctors have got funny about giving them to me. I needed an alternative and didn't fancy getting back on Prozac. I've only been taking the supplements for a month but so far, it's helped a lot. I've only had two panic attacks, whereas usually I'd have four or five."
Do I have to diet? Studies show that 5-HTP enhances weight loss even if you continue eating your normal foods. Without a diet, you stand to lose about a pound a week; many folks eventually drop 15 pounds or more without dieting. Of course, taking 5-HTP to lose weight works by lowering caloric intake — and the more calories you cut, the more you’ll lose. So if you want to maximize results, try tweaking your diet at the two-week mark, when 5-HTP will have fully kicked in, diminishing hunger and carb cravings. Below, we’ve got a version of the diet used in one university study that helped 5-HTP takers lose several times more weight than folks getting a placebo.
^ Jump up to: a b Takayanagi Y, Yoshida M, Bielsky IF, Ross HE, Kawamata M, Onaka T, Yanagisawa T, Kimura T, Matzuk MM, Young LJ, Nishimori K (November 2005). "Pervasive social deficits, but normal parturition, in oxytocin receptor-deficient mice". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 102 (44): 16096–101. Bibcode:2005PNAS..10216096T. doi:10.1073/pnas.0505312102. PMC 1276060. PMID 16249339.
Adam Guastella, a clinical psychologist at University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Research Institute, and a pioneer in studies of how oxytocin can help people with autism, thinks the hormone can also help people in couple therapy by facilitating empathic communication. His research has shown that people who get oxytocin are more focused on positive emotion: they remember happy faces better than angry and neutral ones. Research by others has shown that oxytocin increases trust, generosity and our ability to identify emotion in facial expressions. It is perhaps by these mechanisms that the hormone improves communication.
5-HTP is decarboxylated to serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) by the enzyme aromatic-L-amino-acid decarboxylase with the help of vitamin B6. This reaction occurs both in nervous tissue and in the liver. 5-HTP crosses the blood–brain barrier, while 5-HT does not. Excess 5-HTP, especially when administered with vitamin B6, is thought to be metabolized and excreted.