Could The Hormone Oxytocin Cure Anorexia? Here's What The Experts Say

14/08/2014 16:41 | Updated 20 May 2015

For those who don't know, oxytocin is a hormone released during those bonding moments in life - think sex, childbirth and breastfeeding.

It's been coined as the "love hormone" and is hitting headlines after recent studies by eating disorder expert Professor Janet Treasure reveal it could reduce unhealthy obsessing over food and body image. In short, it might be the answer to curing anorexia.

Human growth hormone with receptor

One published study, Psychoneuroendocrinology, which focused on individuals with and without the eating disorder were shown a series of pictures from food to various body shapes and sizes.

The study revealed after a dose of oxytocin (via nasal spray, for example) participants with anorexia were less likely to focus on the negative images of food and fat parts of the body.

Treasure's colleague, Prof Youl-Ri Kim of Inje University in South Korea, told the BBC: "Our research shows that oxytocin reduces patients' unconscious tendencies to focus on food, body shape, and negative emotions such as disgust."

The eating disorder, anorexia nervosa, has no definitive cure - but any treatment seen to be making any kind of difference is a big deal.


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