What supplements increase oxytocin

Those who have experienced bad things often cannot get away from it for a long time. Over the years restlessness, fear, emotional numbness and avoidance behavior can be the result and contribute to post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Doctors from the Clinic of the Technical University of Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry are now showing in the specialist magazine BMC Medicine (online) that the hormone oxytocin can relieve symptoms and possibly complement treatment.

The team led by trauma researcher Martin Sack had given traumatized women averaging 40 years of age either oxytocin via a nasal spray or a dummy preparation. After two weeks of treatment, the typical PTSD symptoms subsided, especially the avoidance behavior was no longer as pronounced. In addition, the researchers recorded various parameters of the heart's action. It was found that the variability of the heartbeat and other functions improved. These changes suggest that the body's own stress regulation is working better again and that the autonomous control of cardiac excitation is no longer activated as strongly as it was before under the strong emotional stress.

"We are showing for the first time that oxytocin can reduce the intensity of PTSD symptoms in women," says trauma expert Martin Sack. "This could be a new therapy option to complement psychotherapy." Up to now, oxytocin has been considered a popular cuddling and bonding hormone that not only promotes milk ingress after birth, but also strengthens the bond between mother and child. Numerous experiments have shown that oxytocin via nasal spray also strengthens oaths of loyalty, increases trust in others and encourages people to lend money to strangers or to confide in them.

The remedy is in no way intended to replace psychotherapy, but to expand it by adding an option

"These are all exciting findings, but if oxytocin can alleviate symptoms after trauma, it is a different caliber and very promising," says Peter Henningsen, head of the Clinic for Psychosomatics at the Technical University of Munich. "It's not about replacing psychotherapy, but possibly adding this treatment option to it."

So far, the treatment of PTSD has mostly been tedious and difficult. Various drugs such as naloxone and various antidepressants are tried with varying degrees of success, but there is no stable, effective standard drug therapy. Patients are usually better off when they deal with the traumatizing experience in the course of psychotherapy and feel safe and secure. Specific trauma therapies like EMDR can also help. An attempt is made to use calming eye movements or other movement patterns to lower the level of stress during the confrontation with the trauma. In addition, the oxytocin treatment could provide relief.