Oxytocin’s Anti-Aging Benefits
I look forward to each new day. Each one provides me a chance to grow wiser, learn new things, and expand my life.
But, as much as I treasure new experience and knowledge, each new day also brings with it a force that none of us can stop…aging.
There are all sorts of problems associated with aging. Aside from the obvious—like increased risk of disease, a decrease in motor skills and organ function—there are a whole host of other, smaller slights.
And we may have just found the cause of one such slight. And, with that discovery, we have uncovered a promising solution.
We’ve come one step closer to a true fountain of youth. And believe it or not, the solution might just be found in a little extra human touch.
Magic In The Blood
It turns out that one well-known but still mysterious hormone may be responsible for a number of aspects of aging.
Or, more accurately, it’s responsible for the proper functioning of the body in the young.
This mysterious hormone is oxytocin. You may have heard of it before—oxytocin has been linked to a number of beneficial workings within the body.
Specifically, it’s often referred to as the love hormone. It’s activated by touch and is responsible for bonding of all sorts. Between friends, between romantic partners, between a mother and her child.
In other mammals, oxytocin has proven an essential ingredient in monogamy. Block it, and promiscuity rises.
Oxytocin has also been hailed—prematurely—as a potential miracle worker. It’s been proposed as a treatment for all sorts of mental illnesses, from autism to depression.
In that regard, excitement has run far ahead of evidence. Oxytocin may yet prove to be useful in treating mental disorders, but it’s much too soon to say so conclusively.
What’s more, oxytocin appears to have a darker side. For instance, it may be linked to negative behaviors like lying.
It’s a very complex hormone, and our understanding of it is still in its infancy.
However, we’ve unlocked a new aspect of oxytocin. It’s highly related to aging. And this discovery opens up a new world of possibilities.
How The Young Stay Young
In a new study published in Natural Communications, a group of scientists found that oxytocin has a pronounced effect upon cell reproduction.
They found that muscle cells exposed to oxytocin reproduced quickly, while those that weren’t exposed lay dormant.
They found much higher levels of oxytocin in young mice. Further, they found that giving oxytocin to old mice increased muscle growth, while blocking it in young mice resulted in faster atrophy.
That’s a huge finding. Muscle loss is one of the larger problems we face as we age, and is responsible for a number of related issues.
What’s more, the scientists believe—but haven’t yet proven—that oxytocin, in combination with other hormones, may play the same role in many other types of cells. From bone cells to organ cells.
This could lead to radical advances in treatment for all sorts of diseases. We might soon be able to fix failing hearts, cure osteoporosis—perhaps even successfully reverse Alzheimer’s.
Of course, these are still early days. These studies have only been conducted in mice, and they are just the first step towards creating successful treatments.
But in the meantime, it’s worth bearing in mind that oxytocin—a hormone we stimulate through touch—appears to be highly linked to keeping our cells acting young.
So later today, when you next see someone close to you, consider giving an extra hug, or reaching out for a hand. The benefits may just be greater than anyone has ever previously suspected.
Last Updated: August 16, 2018
Originally Published: July 13, 2015