“Love Hormone” Oxytocin May Reduce the Effects of Drinking

shots of alcohol

According to PsychCentral, new research suggests that the hormone oxytocin—which is usually associated with love and sexual behavior—appears to be linked to preventing the physical effects of alcohol. Researchers from the University of Sydney and the University of Regensburg found that when they infused oxytocin into the brains of rats who were then given alcohol, the usual drunken lack of coordination caused by alcohol was prevented.

Dr. Michael T. Bowen, a researcher form the University of Sydney explained: “In the rat equivalent of a sobriety test, the rats given alcohol and oxytocin passed with flying colors, while those given alcohol without oxytocin were seriously impaired.”

The specifics of the research tell us that when oxytocin is present in the brain, it prevents alcohol form accessing the GABA-A receptors, the site of the brain that is responsible for alcohol’s intoxicating effects. Despite the fact that the rats had alcohol in their systems, it was impossible for the researchers to tell from their behavior that they were actually drunk. However, their actual blood alcohol level remained the same.

The big question is: How could this effect humans? As soon as the scientists behind the research are able to ensure a way of delivering enough oxytocin to the brain, they plan to conduct these tests on humans. [PsychCentral] [Photo: Flickr/TMAB2003]