Oxytocin is a chemical signalling molecule naturally occurring in humans, it is integral in parturition, milk let-down, and maternal behaviours. More recently this hormone has been found to play an important role in the regulation of human social behaviours such as social decision making, evaluating and responding to social stimuli, mediating social interactions, and forming social memories. It is also involved in multiple neuropsychiatric functions and may be a common factor important in multiple psychiatric disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, mood and anxiety disorders. Oxytocin has been studied in human trials and there is an ever-increasing amount of evidence for its therapeutic benefit.
The effect of Oxytocin is determined by individual factors related to clinical presentation however some effects which have been observed include improvement in trust behaviours, reduced anxious attachment, improved social cognition, reduction in symptoms of schizophrenia, therapeutic benefit in social anxiety disorder. Oxytocin has allowed patients to interact socially without any associated anxiety and energy drain.
Some of the adverse effects which may occur include headaches, nausea, vomiting, bleeding and an irregular heartbeat. Do not be alarmed as these do not commonly occur in patients however should they occur consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately. If any signs of allergic reaction occur such as difficulty breathing, chest tightness, swelling, skin rashes and hives occur proceed to your nearest emergency department.
Oxytocin can only be delivered either sublingually (troche) or intranasally as this is the only method to cross the blood brain barrier and will degrade if not stored in the refrigerator.
Caution: Not to be used in pregnancy (Category C)