Oxytocin, the natural fear support system
Oxytocin allows animals to remain perfectly still and fearless when in the face of danger.
Recent brain imaging pictures taken at the NIH (National Institute of Mental Health) have given us a much clearer picture of exactly how oxytocin functions in the brain, specifically how it addresses fear and anxiety when faced with intimidating situations.
To do so researchers focused their MRI cameras on the amygdala. The amygdala is the part of the brain that harbors our deepest memories, both good and bad. They were most interested in what happens to the amygdala, the part of the brain that controls the fight or flight impulse in our adrenal glands. Because, the adrenals, when triggered, release that much maligned hormone called cortisol. The study, involving fifteen male subjects, were asked to look at intimidating pictures of tough looking guys as their amygdala’s were being scanned by an MRI. Naturally, their amygdala’s fired right up in the face of fear. The men were then given nasal oxytocin spray. Their amygdala’s immediately relaxed. Researchers repeated this with a few shots of a placebo spray but it didn’t make a difference at all. Their amygdala’s remained on alert. This suggests a powerful influence of the hormone’s ability to regulate fear.
Oxytocin is a unique hormone. Vastly different from other hormones in the body. It is the only hormone that the body releases from several different parts of the body simultaneously; the skin, eyes, testes, ovaries, breasts pituitary, and many more. This multi-fold action suggests the hormone as a powerful holistic treatment for fear and anxiety. It allows them to remain still and fearless. Science has long known that when animals in the wild are faced with their most formidable foe their brains release a cascade of the oxytocin from every possible source enabling them to become extremely still. This gives them time to make a rational decision as to their next move. They are literally fearless. A cascade of the hormone is also preparing them to act with tremendous strength.