Oxytocin sometimes referred to as the “love hormone,” because levels of oxytocin increase during hugging and orgasm. It may also have benefits as a treatment for a number of conditions, including depression, anxiety, and intestinal problems.
Whenever we feel stressed, volatile, or are escalating into an argument, the stress hormones that are coursing through our body have revved up our nervous system out of our window of tolerance. And whenever we shut down and withdraw, disconnecting and isolating for safety, our nervous system has become too constricted, and we are unable to engage and repair relationships.
At these times, therapeutic massage is especially valuable since oxytocin is one of the most effective tools we have for regulating the physiological arousal or dampening down of our nervous system. Because oxytocin is also the neurochemical basis for the felt sense of safety and trust, it is the hormone of relational repair. It instantly antidotes the fight-flight-freeze response to any perceived threat or danger. Stress hormone levels are reduced, blood pressure is lowered, and we become less emotionally reactive. And when we feel safe and relaxed, we are able to be more generous and loving to everyone around us.