May 4, 2009

Study: Love hormone eases conflict

Swiss researchers say the so called love hormone -- oxytocin -- eases conflict stress.

The study, published in Biological Psychiatry, evaluated how real-time behavior in couples was affected by exposure to either oxytocin or a placebo.

The researchers recruited adult couples who received oxytocin or placebo intranasally -- within the nose. The couples then engaged in conflict discussion while in the laboratory.

The researchers find oxytocin increased positive communications more than a placebo and stress levels were lower with the oxytocin. Stress levels were determined by measuring amounts of stress hormone -- cortisol -- in saliva.

Oxytocin might help us to pronounce the effects of a standard treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, by possibly making the benefits of social interaction more accessible to the individual, study author Beate Ditzen of the University of Zurich in Switzerland said in a statement. But it probably will not replace these standard treatments.