This is a recent, easy-to-comprehend paper on oxytocin and its various roles by a leading expert. Here's the abstract. If you want to see the full paper, contact me and I will send it to the email you used to register.
Love As Embodied Medicine
C. Sue Carter
As a sentient species, humans are on the threshold of novel insights into the origins of the magnificent
obsession we call “love.” It is well established that healthy relationships can protect against disease and
restore the body in the face of illness. Without positive relationships, especially in early life, humans
fail to flourish, even if all of their basic biological needs are met. “Love lost” is one of the most powerful
forms of stress and trauma. However, the mechanisms through which love protects and heals are only
now becoming apparent. Love is most easily understood through the lens of our evolutionary past
and in light of our contemporary physiology. At the epicenter of this story is a mammalian hormone,
oxytocin, and an even more ancient molecule, known as vasopressin. These biochemical building
blocks of love are not unique to humans and are shared with other highly social species. Through
the study of social behavior in other mammals, we are also learning that the same physiology that lies
behind the healing power of love, reduces inflammation, regulates the autonomic nervous system, the
immune system, and even regulates the microbiome. Furthermore, the oxytocin-vasopressin system
is regulated by experience across the lifespan, helping to explain the lasting physical consequences of
both love and adversity. By examining the biology of social bonds and parenting, we are uncovering
pathways that allow humans to experience and embody love.
International Body Psychotherapy Journal: The Art and Science of Somatic Praxis
Volume 18, Number 1, Spring 2019 pp 19 - 25.