Nail Mat Review – Oxytocin Benefits
NURTURE YOUR LIFE WITH OXYTOCIN by Michelle Maniaci, Licensed Physical Therapist, Yoga Therapist, Energy Healing Practitioner. Creator of NURTURING MOVES®.
Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter and a hormone that is used for so much more than just labor and childbirth. In the past 20 years there has been more and more research studies that have revealed the many different functions and benefits of this very important substance. Though most studies to date have been done on animals, we may still greatly benefit from a deeper understanding of the importance of stimulating the release of this vital “love, connecting, healing, socializing and self-growth stimulating” hormone in our everyday lives and relationships.
What is Oxytocin?
Oxytocin which means “quick labor/birth” is both a neurotransmitter (signaling substance in the brain) and a hormone (acts in the body through the bloodstream) in the body that is involved with calming, connecting, growth, reproduction, healing, socializing, friendliness, curiosity, digestion, trust, and recharging of energy.
Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg, author of The Oxytocin Factor, calls the oxytocin system in mammals The Calm, Healing, and Connection System in the human body. This system works most efficiently when the body is at rest. It helps the body to heal, grow, and reproduce. In this state, we have greater access to our internal resources and creativity. We are better able to learn, pay attention, and solve problems when we feel safe and calm. According to Uvnas-Moberg, stimulating the oxytocin system is the solution to protect ourselves from the negative impact of chronic stress.”
Oxytocin is commonly associated with labor, birth, and nursing, but it actually plays a much wider role in both men and women. It is easy to promote the release of oxytocin since information is transmitted to oxytocin-producing cells from the body’s outside environment (through the five senses), inside (through sensory receptors in the muscles and joints), and sensory receptors in the internal organs. Our physical and emotional environment, thoughts, associations, and memories also influence the system.
Where in the body is oxytocin produced?
Oxytocin is produced in the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei of the hypothalamus. Nerve fibers from these areas travel to the posterior dorsal lobe of the pituitary gland. From the pituitary, nerves travel to various areas of the brain close to the hypothalamus and brain stem, sites connected with the regulation of blood pressure, pulse, alertness, movement, and feeling. These same nerves also connect with locations in the brain and spinal cord that control the activity of the autonomic nervous system as well as the sensation of pain. Currently, the only place we have discovered in the human body to be oxytocin receptors is in the contraction mechanism of the uterus. We have yet to discover where else in the human body are the different oxytocin receptor sites.
What effects does the release of oxytocin produce in the body?
Based on human studies: Oxytocin levels go up when we nurse, eat, make love, have physical contact with another individual (massage, hugs, snuggling, carrying child).
Based on Rat studies, the following occurs when Oxytocin is released in the body:
- Less fearful
- More Sociable
- Increased eye contact
- Sexual and maternal behavior (mothers interact more with their babies) is increased.
- Makes us feel safe and supported, less fearful so we may more easier engage in social interaction with strangers and build relationships.
- Lowers blood pressure and lowers levels of cortisol/stress hormone.
- Increased interaction between mothers and their babies.
- May improve social memory-easier to recognize someone you have met before.
- Small amounts of oxytocin reduce anxiety, increase curiosity, larger amounts produce different effect… a cow will stand still, look drowsy, even go to sleep.
- Increased calm, lowers pulse, and blood pressure in humans and apes.
- Alleviates pain, reduces the sensation of pain. the reaction to the message of pain diminishes.
- Improves one’s learning ability, especially after receiving repeated injections over time.
- Aids in digestion, but depends on whether full or hungry. Over time the digestive processes work more efficiently, in part because oxytocin stimulates the secretion of gastric juices and the release of digestive hormones such as gastrin, cholecystokinin, somatostatin, and insulin-these 3 promote storage of nourishment in the body. Oxytocin influences vagus nerve activity-if person is full increases digestive activity, if person is hungry-digestive process inhibited.
- Oxytocin’s effects in females are more pronounced: for ex. lower blood pressure for three weeks in females as opposed to 1.5 weeks in males with same dosage given.
- Oxytocin works with opposite vasopressin to regulate fluid levels in the body. Oxytocin stimulates the extraction of sodium by the kidneys and promotes urination. Animals receiving oxytocin become less enthusiastic about eating salt, the result is a lowering of body’s sodium content and a reduction of the retention of water.
- Oxytocin accelerates wound healing and stimulates new cell growth (wound healing is twice as fast).
- Oxytocin rejuvenates mucous membranes and reduces inflammation.
- Oxytocin stimulates the pituitary’s release of prolactin (stimulates the production of milk), growth hormone (GH), adrenocorticotrophic hormone (ACTH).
- Oxytocin reduces muscle tension.
- Oxytocin causes vasodilation of the chest/face area while carrying baby (also seen in males) and nursing.
- Expulsion of baby, uterus, and breast milk.
- Oxytocin injections increase fertility, make the very first cell divisions after fertilization occur more quickly, causing embryo to grow faster.
Based on observations in studies with rats, how may I naturally stimulate the release of oxytocin in my body?
- Skin to skin touch is one of the strongest ways to stimulate the oxytocin system.
- Warmth, pleasant, repetitive, and rhythmical touch.
- Massage at the rate of 40 strokes per minute seems most beneficial, especially to the ventral/front side of the body (chest and tummy). This lowers blood pressure, increases tolerance for pain-higher pain threshold, lower level of stress hormone, increased growth in both young and adult animals, increased social interaction, improved learning.
- Receiving loving and nurturing care, and being handled positively in early life sets us up for a continued sense of feeling safe and connected, which is necessary for emotional and physical health.
- Sexual relations, love making, fore play, and orgasm.
- Feeling grateful, friendliness, openness, surrender to the moment, being the witness/observer. Seeing the beauty in every thing, instead of judging or criticizing, feeling the inner connection with all living things, our Oneness with all that is around us.
- Closeness and physical contact, bonding relationships especially within first hour after birth, this has long term effects on both mother and child.
- Having a doula at your birth has been shown to reduce the experience of pain during labor, and speed delivery. As a result, women view the experience of labor in a more positive light. Six weeks after birth, mothers who had doula at birth have better relationships with their infants, partners, and fewer incidences of depression.
- Entrainment: If we have higher levels of oxytocin, we increase other people’s levels from them just being in our presence.
- Movement that is rhythmical and repetitive. The more body parts moving simultaneously, the higher the release of oxytocin.
- Physical closeness and touch provide us with feeling of security. SNUGGLING. Being around people we like.
- The rhythmical movement of diaphragmatic breathingstimulates the Vagus nerve, a sensory nerve which conveys information from the abdominal organs, the heart, and lungs.
- Exercise: The sensory nerve fibers in the muscles and joints causes the release of oxytocin. Exercise releases oxytocin and oxytocin promotes endorphin release-natural pain killers. Whole body exercise is more effective in stimulating a larger release of oxytocin.
- Whole body rhythmical breath-movement practices such as NURTURING MOVES®, Yoga, Tai Chi, Certain Dance forms, or Chi Kung.
- Feeling grateful and loving.
- Repetition of words/mantras-slow and rhythmical. Singing, vocal toning.
- Rhythmic Repetition of instrument, beat, ex. drum.
- Acupuncture: The pain reducing effect of acupuncture does not materialize if an oxytocin antagonist is given at the same time, therefore there is a connection between oxytocin and endorphins but we still don’t know exactly how the two are related.
- Prayer, guided imagery, visualizations.
- Meditation: feel heart beat, experience the rhythm of the breath, repeat mantra.
- Supportive and friendly psychological feedback. Listening attentively with eye contact, gives person feeling of confidence and connection, just as friendly touch does.
- Healthy personal relationships are linked with lower incidence of cardiovascular disease.
- Positive physical environments (through sight, hearing, smell, touch, warmth) or the memories of these positive environments. A stimulus can cause the release of oxytocin through a conditioned reflex. Can create a calm and connection conditioned reflex through coming to a location that had a positive memory prior experience. The more positive environmental cues/multi-sensory cues, the more impact/memory we are building.
- Familiar settings are more calming/relaxing, birthing in a hospital may be perceived as stressful or relaxing depending on how the person feels about the hospital.
- Taking a warm bath or a sauna.
- Relaxing in the sun.
- The feeling of a full stomach generates peace and calm.
- Elevated levels of serotonin cause the release of oxytocin. Since SSRI medications raise serotonin levels, some of the effect of these medications may be caused by activation of the patient’s oxytocin system. It is interesting to note that individuals with depression have been found to have uncommonly low levels of oxytocin.
- Vibration: Shimmy or vibrate your body daily while in the shower for a quick oxytocin boost.
- Sound Healing: Vibrational Sound healing with brass or crystal bowls, Acutonics, Vibrational Movement through singing or vocal toning.
Most effective way is through injection, however this is not comfortable and it only lasts 2-3 minutes once in the bloodstream. Other ways are through INTRAVENOUS DRIP: to facilitate expulsion of placenta after baby born. NASAL SPRAY: used to stimulate milk explusion in women who have difficulty nursing.
What would an oxytocin filled day look like?
Dancing, exercising, singing, meditating, being affectionate, grateful, and loving to yourself and to others on a daily basis. Sleeping with enough pillows so that you feel “nested”. Laying beneath a soft and warm comforter. Wake up and play music or dance/sing while getting ready to go to work. Saying “good morning to your family members as you look into their eyes with a loving intention and giving them a hug, kiss, and a smile. Eating breakfast and feeling grateful and loving towards your food. Feeling full after breakfast. Going to work, driving in the car and listening to music, dancing, and noticing all the beauty around you. Once you are at your job, making eye contact, listening, feeling supported and supporting your colleagues in your state of Being there for them. Shaking hands, giving hugs where appropriate. Taking moments to just breathe with your full diaphragmatic breath, taking moments to pause throughout the day and notice the beauty that is always around you. Notice nature, the trees, sky, earth and sun. When you arrive at home, taking a moment to turn off the mind/body, and just lay down for a few minutes to re-energize and restore your energy levels. Letting go of the tension or thoughts accumulated throughout the day. Going for a walk in the sun, feeling the warmth of the sun and allowing it to energize you. Feeling grateful for the day, exactly as it unfolded. Content with whatever your day brings. Taking a warm bath by candle light with relaxing music. Tucking your body into bed in a loving way. Thanking your body-mind-spirit for a great day. Feeling connected to everyone in this big universe. Wishing well to every living creature before you go to bed. Taking long deep breaths as you float into your deep sleep. Feeling joy, love and whole in every cell of your body. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOW TO NATURALLY RAISE YOUR OXYTOCIN GO TO www.nurturingmoves.com.
Uvnas-Moberg, Kerstin. The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping the hormone of calm, love and healing. De Capo Press, 2003.