There’s a new paper out by Gareth Leng and Mike Ludwig that bears the coy title “Intranasal Oxytocin: Myths and Delusions” (get the full text here before it disappears behind a paywall) that you need to know about if you’re interested in research on the links between oxytocin and human behavior.
In the brain, it’s the hypothalamus that makes OT, but it’s the pituitary that stores and distributes it to the periphery. I knew that, of course, but here’s a fact I didn’t know: At any given point in time, the human pituitary gland contains about 14 International Units (IU) of OT (which is about 28 micrograms). So when you read that a researcher has administered 18 or 24IU of oxytocin intranasally as part of a behavioral experiment, bear in mind that they have dumped more than an entire pituitary gland’s worth of OT into the body.
To me, that seems like a lot of extra OT to be floating around out there without us knowing completely what its unintended effects might be. Most scientists who conduct behavioral work on OT with humans think and of course hope that this big payload of OT is benign, and to be clear, I know of no evidence that it is not benign. Even so, research on the use of OT for labor augmentation has found that labor can be stimulated with as little as 3.2 IU of intranasal OT during childbirth by virtue of its effects on the uterus.
The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Human Oxytocin Research Gets a Drubbing