Getting your oxytocin fix?

I just watched a fascinating TED talk that got my little brain going... It was by Paul Zak a neuroeconomist.  A what?   A neuroeconomist, he studies the molecules involved with making certain decisions, especially those relating to money, morality, and other human interactions.

Oxytocin is most famously known for stimulating uterine contractions during both orgasm and childbirth.  (The drug Pitocin is used to induce labor and slow post partum hemorrhage by this mechanism)  Studies are now being done looking at its role in pair bonding, trust, decision making, maternal behaviors, and psychopathy.  Oxytocin appears to encourage trust by inhibiting the amygdala, the fear and strong emotion processing center of the brain.  Empathy as it turns out is very related to oxytocin secretion. 

I have been interested in oxytocin since my many readings on pheromones.  Many of you probably remember all my papers and rants about pheromones in med school.  My interest in pheromones started in high school, there was a specific girl who's smell drove me wild.  I could smell her when she entered the room!  After a session of massaging each other's feet, I felt absolutely bonded to her.  I had eyes for no other after that, for years!  In retrospect my little juvenile brain was reacting to the potent combination of her pheromones and my release of oxytocin from her touch! (first time I was touched by a girl for a prolonged amount of time)

It was interesting to hear in Paul Zak's talk that using social media spikes oxytocin.  Connecting to other people in any way sexual or not seems to drive up oxytocin levels.  People who release more oxytocin are happier in studies.  Those 5% in the population who do not tend to be psychopaths.  Which begs the question as to whether oxytocin may be used to rehabilitate criminals.

There is also some evidence that one of the long term consequences of those of us who have been sexually abused have dysregulation in the oxytocin system.   They tend to not like being touched and have trouble trusting those touching them.  Oxytocin based treatments, may be a key to recovery.

Autistic children are now being treated with oxytocin and are exhibiting more socially appropriate behavior post treatment.

Oxytocin may also ameliorate some symptoms of addiction and is being investigated for treatment.  Interestingly, MDMA "Ecstasy" gets its affects from its interaction with the oxytocin system.

I of course have to put a line in here about oxytocin and porn.  Yes, men can become "bonded" to their porn.  Many porn sites are moving to the model with private chat rooms, etc so it feels more like a relationship, more likely to release oxytocin and create a bond in addition to the massive hit of dopamine that one gets.  Here is what guys who gave up porn report...

I also wonder if some of the antisocial behavior elicited by the 1% could be ameliorated by treatment with oxytocin?  Can someone take one for the team and stimulate Dick Cheney's nipples?

Top ways to get oxytosin
1. Hugs, Paul Zac recommends 8 per day
2. Nipple stimulation (and yes it works for males as well, I uh, looked it up)
3. Massage (unfortunately not for the masseuse)
4. Philanthropy- give something away
5. Fall in love (not lust, that is dopamine driven, real love)
6. Any healthy touch, holding hands, ect.
7. Orgasm with a partner (it is theorized that this may be why orgasm by one's self is not quite satisfying)