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‘Love Hormone’ May Boost Sociability In Kids With Autism


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A simple nasal spray of a naturally-occurring hormone is showing tremendous promise in treating the socialization difficulties associated with autism.

Preliminary findings from a small, ongoing study of children ages 7 to 18 with autism indicate that a spray of oxytocin dramatically alters brain activity, particularly in the areas responsible for socialization.

“When we’re comparing days in which children come in and get an oxytocin spray versus days they come in and get a placebo spray, we’re seeing a huge difference in brain function,” said Ilanit Gordon of the Yale Child Study Center who presented the research Wednesday at the International Meeting for Autism Research in Toronto.

The differences are especially striking because they are apparent as kids perform a wide variety of tasks, Gordon said.

The research is the first double-blind, placebo-controlled study to look at the effects of oxytocin on kids with autism.

Often referred to as the “love hormone,” oxytocin occurs naturally in the body during childbirth and helps mothers bond with their babies, for example.

Though many unknowns remain about the potential for utilizing oxytocin with those who have autism, Gordon said she and her colleagues are optimistic.

“We’re hopeful that this will lead to better treatment for social dysfunction in ASD,” Gordon said.

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Comments (9 Responses)

  1. Jim says:

    I am a 65-year-old Aspie and I’ve been self-mixing and -administering nasal oxytocin for a little over three months now. I can enthusiastically vouch for the fact that this helps significantly in the social arena, as far as interacting with people is concerned. For lack of better terms, it seems to somehow remove the “shell” or “bubble” that I’ve always felt trapped in, and makes me feel less tense and self-aware. In other words, how I imagine neurotypicals to ordinarily act and feel. I don’t buy into all the media hype about a “love” and/or “trust” drug; nor am I inclined to buy the products hyped for those purposes. I buy my own pure powder and mix with ordinary saline solution (for nebulization) and mannitol (to enable better transition through the blood-brain barrier). I am extremely impressed with the results I’ve gotten so far and I plan to stick with this indefinitely (i.e., for the rest of my life???). There is no high or “rush” per se, just somehow more of an easier and more relaxed feeling in dealing with others. That’s the best I can explain it. But the sooner we see this freely and openly available for Aspies and others on the spectrum, the better. In my book, anyway!

  2. Teri Barila says:

    Can you provide the name of this product, is it an over the counter type of supplement available easily? Or how does one find the pure powder and what is the proportion of the three items you mention?

  3. Jim says:

    Teri, you can buy pure oxytocin from just about any peptide distributor. There are many to be found on the Internet, but it probably wouldn’t be appropriate to name any here. There’s a bit of skill and a lot of math involved in getting to the “end dose” but it’s not really critical to get it perfect. All of the studies I’ve seen use a dosage of 24 IU (international units) twice a day but I think they just used that dosage for convenience as oxytocin is pharmaceutically formulated in that dosage for other things (like inducing labor and/or lactation). I find it much too difficult to calibrate such exact doses at home so I’m admittedly a bit sloppy and I err on the heavy side, but I’ve never heard of anyone “overdosing” on oxytocin, at least not with any significant problems. Oxytocin is legal in the U.S. but NOT for medicinal purposes (just for research, etc.), so you can legally buy it and possess it. Mannitol is simply a sugar, easily obtainable just about anywhere. You could probably use plain water to mix, but I prefer the pre-mixed .9% saline that’s used for respiratory nebulization because it’s sterile and it’s made for inhalation. Although it’s technically a prescription item (I think) you can always find some on eBay. Many respiratory providers will send it mail order without requiring a script too. I know this may not be as exact as you might like, but I’m hardly “exact” in my own preparations. I’ve just found a useful mix that works for me. Shop around and experiment. Pure oxytocin can be pretty expensive, but sometimes you can find good deals. But remember the buyer beware business too. Try to find a supplier with a good reputation. Personally, I use one that’s in Toronto. I get the impression that Canada provides a good business climate for these kinds of companies. My response has probably left you dissatisfied, but hopefully it will point you in the right direction. Good luck!

  4. fairlady68 says:

    This is fascinating…and I am glad that when I went to the comments, I saw that some application to adults has also been brought into the picture. Please keep us posted on developments in this area!

  5. KA101 says:

    Hmm. Taking something up the nose to improve one’s feelings of social capacity (among other things) and dramatically alter brain function. No big deal. People have been doing cocaine for decades now.

    Oh, wait–are we supposed to become drug addicts or something? Is *that* why DSM5 is tightening on autism and broadening addictions–it’ll now be addiction spectrum disorder??


  6. Paula C. Durbin-Westby says:

    Yeah. Make sure the “love hormone” does not get into the hands of child molesters or other people that will prey on “increased trust” caused by oxytocin.

  7. autismUXB says:

    What are the particular characteristics of increased sociability in this report? In particular, how are interpersonal abilities improved for an individual who has little or no use of language?

  8. Naomi Mitchum says:

    What are statistics on kids with Turner or Kalmann syndrome who sometimes use nose spray for hormone replacement? Some of these are also Aspberger kids. Is anyone studying this?

  9. Robert Lawrence says:

    Thank you, Jim
    Ongoing progress in “Biological Psychiatry” strongly supports the biochemical underpinnings of true health and well-being. Oxytocin, a neuro-peptide, continues to provide favorable results. in the field of Neuroscience. A major challenge, I think, will be to work out the biochemical underpinnings of true health and well-being.

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