by Erika Garza
Commonly referred to as the “love hormone,” oxytocin plays a significant role in social bonding, sexual reproduction, childbirth and more. You know that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you snuggle up with your sweetheart? That’s oxytocin. Or, if you’re a parent, you know that spark of instant connection you felt upon meeting and holding your newborn baby? That’s oxytocin, too. Some researchers even say that playing with your dog can cause an oxytocin release.
If you’ve ever noticed a similar warm and fuzzy feeling after trying CBD, you’re not alone. Emerging research now shows that cannabinoids found in cannabis and the body’s love and trust hormone oxytocin actually create similar effects in the body, including social bonding and closeness. Here’s how oxytocin and CBD work together and how you can make the most of this heart-opening cocktail so you can take your cuddling, kissing or other favorite bonding activity to the next level.
Better Social Bonding
According to a pre-clinical research study at UC Irvine, there is a powerful connection between oxytocin and anandamide, a naturally occurring endocannabinoid known as the “bliss” or “delight” molecule, which can be enhanced by CBD.
Researchers discovered that in mice who were allowed social interaction, the levels of anandamide increased in an area of the brain that’s critical for motivation, pleasure and reward. When the mice were administered drugs that enhanced anandamide signaling, their pleasure associated with socialization increased. However, when their cannabinoid receptors were blocked, the mice were prevented from experiencing the rewards of social interaction.
In the same study, researchers found that oxytocin also enhanced the production of anandamide within the same area of the brain responsible for motivation and reward. And when oxytocin receptors were blocked, it stopped the pleasure and reward sensation obtained by social interactions, proving that social reward and the pleasurable effects of oxytocin are driven by anandamide and facilitated by CBD. One of the top benefits of cuddling, and other forms of intimacy, is increased trust between people. Oxytocin ensures a strong and long-lasting emotional bond - it’s your chemistry
More Pleasurable Sex
Sometimes bad sex is the result of stress and anxiety. Other times it’s because there isn’t enough lubrication. And yet other times, it’s because one partner is too afraid to tell the other what they really want. Research shows that CBD may be effective at minimizing stress and anxiety, thus reducing the worries that can sabotage a positive sexual experience. CBD can also increase blood flow to tissues, which increases sensitivity and promotes the body’s own natural lubrication. And by enhancing anandamide and endorphins, CBD can be used as a precursor to a better sexual experience. For instance, using a CBD massage oil can be great for foreplay, stimulating anandamide and oxytocin at the same time through physical touch and closeness.
Enhanced Health and Immunity
Did you know cuddling can actually improve your health? A 2014 study from Carnegie Mellon University found that people who hugged more were less likely to contract a cold after being exposed to the cold virus and that those who did wind up getting sick had less severe symptoms because of the combination of oxytocin and serotonin that cuddling provided. Similarly, CBD has been proven to have antiviral properties, which could help defend the body from sickness. And if your cold or flu comes with body aches, getting a body rub with CBD oil can help soothe your aches faster. The best massage oil for better health is a broad-spectrum CBD oil without THC (the psychoactive component in cannabis).
Cuddling not your thing? Fortunately, kissing also leads to a burst of oxytocin. With CBD-infused kissing balm, you can now kiss your way to better relationships, better sex and better overall health, too.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist. Her work has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, The Telegraph and VICE. She lives in Los Angeles.