Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter hormone that is naturally released into the bloodstream by the posterior pituitary gland. Oxytocin injections are traditionally used in pregnancy to stimulate uterus contractions. Oxytocin injections are also commonly used to facilitate milk ejection while breastfeeding.
Naturally Raising Oxytocin Levels
Naturally raising Oxytocin levels can be achieved by many means such as; Pregnancy, bonding, touch, smell, taste (and possibly utilising other senses), positive interaction with others, sexual orgasm and massage
Oxytocin has many effects, some of them peripheral to CFS hence I will examine Oxytocin’s potential CFS related effects.
Oxytocin relaxes the individual and reduces blood pressure and cortisol levels. It also raises the individual’s pain threshold and reduces levels of anxiety. Oxytocin suppresses the activity levels of the amygdala region within the brain. This is the part of the brain that is involved with interactions with the rest of the brain as well as the part of the brain that is central to the feeling of fear. Oxytocin is also known for improving cognitive impairment, increasing energy levels and regulating low libido levels. It also helps the other chemicals in the brain work better together. Oxytocin can help regulate the circulation of blood within the smaller blood vessels of the body. It may also help restore function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.
Oxytocin and CFS
Some of the CFS specialists that have used Oxytocin on their patients include; Dr Goldstein, Dr Lapp, Dr Flechas and Dr Teitelbaum. Dr Goldstein found 1/5th of his patients experienced improvement from Oxytocin injections. The patients that tend to respond better to Oxytocin are those who are pale or have cold extremities. Oxytocin has been a miracle cure for a minority of CFS patients. These patients have gone from not being able to walk to cycling within several weeks. It has been said that Oxytocin either has a dramatic effect on you or no effect on you. Fibromyalgia patients are also often low in Oxytocin and may also reap benefits from it. Oxytocin has also been used on autism patients as a treatment for repetitive behaviours and to increase social interaction levels.
An examination of medical charts has shown that out of 27 CFS patients who became pregnant, 25 had improved CFS symptoms during pregnancy. Several theories hypothesise on why this is the case. The first theory is that a specific part of the immune system of pregnant women shuts off. A second theory involves the pregnancy resulting in an alteration of hormone levels (one of which is Oxytocin.)
The amount of injections needed to determine if Oxytocin will help with CFS symptoms varies. Some specialists give one injection and monitor the effects for 30-60 minutes. If this doesn’t have any effect, they don’t proceed with future injections. Other specialists believe it takes several injections over some interval for the duration of 2 weeks to determine if Oxytocin will have any positive effects.
At the time of writing this article, I’m not aware of any blood tests specifically for Oxytocin.
Oxytocin and Me
Next week I will begin Oxytocin injections. I have been interested in trying Oxytocin for several years, since I read that CFS patients with cold extremities tend to respond better to it. My old CFS specialist who treated over 500 CFS patients commented that my hands were the coldest hands he has felt out of all his CFS patients. The ends of my feet are also extremely cold. To put the coldness of my extremities into some sort of quantificational terms, when I touch cold water it feels warm to me.
Oxytocin may also be beneficial to me as similarly to vasopressin, it can reduce the excretion of urine slightly. I currently urinate over 50 times a day hence a reduction in this number would be satisfying.
Forms of Oxytocin
Oxytocin can be taken in three basic forms; injection, nasal spray and tablet. The dose and quantity of Oxytocin absorbed varies between these forms.
The efficiency of these three forms may vary based on the individual however the widely accepted theory is that injections are the most effective method of absorbing Oxytocin, followed by nasal spray, followed by oral tablets. A doctor’s prescription is necessary to obtain any form of Oxytocin.
As well as Oxytocin, Dr Goldstein also used the drug Midodrine to treat some CFS patients. He believed the Midodrine caused the release of Oxytocin into the body. Part of his reasoning for this was observing the same symptoms improve with both Oxytocin therapy and Midodrine treatment. Midodrine’s main use is to raise blood pressure levels although many specialists have used it for its peripheral side effects to treat CFS. A Midodrine study (or at least the abstract) on CFS patients can be found here: http://pmj.bmj.com/content/80/942/230.abstract More information about Midodrine can be found here: http://aboutmecfs.org/Trt/TrtMidodrine.aspx
If you consider taking Oxytocin or Midodrine, please consult with your physician about dosage, side effects and whether they may be useful for you.
I will update my blog in several weeks and give a summary of any effects Oxytocin injections had on me. I don’t expect to improve on Oxytocin (based on being CFS treatment resistant for the entirety of my CFS to date.) Despite this, the fact that Oxytocin tends to work on those with cold extremities means that this treatment may be somewhat effective for me.