"Love Hormone" Has Effects Similar to Alcohol
Researchers at the University of Birmingham sought to compare the effects of oxytocin, a hormone that influences emotional, cognitive, and social behaviors in ways that increase altruism, empathy, and trust in others, and the effects alcohol has on the brain since both have a tendency to trigger these behaviors.
Researchers analyzed numerous studies that assessed the effects of oxytocin, administered nasally, and alcohol on the brain. They found that though both compounds target different brain receptors, they have similar effects on Gamma-Amino Butyric acid (GABA), signaling in the prefrontal cortex and limbic areas of the brain. These are the circuits that control how people perceive stress or anxiety. Both compounds were found to ease these feelings.
However, abusing alcohol or oxytocin has negative effects, one of them being encouraging unnecessary risk-taking.
Researchers, publishing their findings in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, noted that oxytocin may have clinical uses in the treatment of specific psychological or psychiatric conditions.