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The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man be perfected without trials. - Danish Proverb
The subtle exquisite influences of nature never cease to amaze me. Do you know that the process of bonding in humans and in animals is orchestrated by a chemical in our bodies?  Without this chemical drive we might not even perpetuate ourselves? Without this chemical tie in humans and animals there might be more abandonment of the helpless newborn. The presence of the hormone, Oxytocin (OT), in our brain and body is among the vast number of daily miracles taking place in each of us. The proper amount and functioning of OT determines our ultimate sense of personal and interpersonal contentment and connectedness. Inadequate OT influence can lead people and animals to become withdrawn, alienated and isolated.
Each of our hormones has a unique critical set of functions and OT serves to support the continuing existence of humanity. We have long known OT is intimately involved in sexual behavior, birth, breast feeding, and the social bonding which is needed for the care and preservation of the young. Oxytocin is released in large amounts to stimulate uterine contractions during labor to help expel the baby. Nipple stimulation of a lactating mother induces OT to cause milk letdown to allow breast feeding. The large amount of OT released during birth also travels to the infant to induce an inhibitory anesthetizing effect on its brain in preparation for the uncomfortable trip down the birth canal. Oxytocin helps the mother forget the pain of  giving birth so she is ultimately willing to repeat the cycle and to have more children.
Though OT was first identified in the early 1900's, it was only viewed as being important to the above mentioned  processes until the 1980's when it began to be studied for its further extraordinary and extensive functions.
Chemically speaking, oxytocin is a neuropeptide made from nine amino acids. It functions as both a hormone and a neurotransmitter. Neurotransmitters are chemical substances allowing communication between brains cells to effect specific emotional, cognitive, motor, or automatic brain or body functions. Oxytocin is made in the hypothalamus and stored in and released by the posterior pituitary gland to create reactions in the body and brain. Oxytocin is also made in other yet to be mentioned locations in the body and brain.
Because of my special interest in hormones and neurotransmitters, I have wanted to dig deeper into the subject of oxytocin.  I have found the study could go on for a lifetime.  But for now this newsletter needs to get finished as it  has become so long it will  be divided into 2 parts.  Even though the research is in its infancy there are several books about oxytocin.   This newsletter cannot begin to cover all the information but will give you some idea of the importance of this critical hormone and for whom and why it can be a useful therapeutic agent.
Oxytocin mediates the patterns of maternal care to increase maternal supportive nurturing behavior. The large amount of OT release with the birthing process facilitates the start of the mother-child emotional chemical bonding process. Subsequently each time the mother and infant positively interact more OT is released by both of them. This intermittent pulsing release of OT helps the baby associate social contact with states of pleasure, well-being, and calmness which in turn plays a crucial role in early brain development. The repeated exposure to OT causes long lasting positive effects by building and influencing multiple neurotransmitter systems throughout the brain. Infant massage is popular in many cultures, especially India. This is obviously highly beneficial in triggering the OT reaction.
It isn't all about mothers either.  Fathers need to be directly involved, as studies show the OT levels of fathers only increase with early direct skin contact with the baby. These researchers suggest we need to provide opportunities for paternal care to trigger the OT mediated biological basis of fatherhood. This explains my sisters' recent behavior when her son and his wife had their first child. My sister is an R.N. Lactation Specialist, so she would be involved in this sort of thing. She insisted her son stay home from work the first few days the baby was home to hold the diapered only  baby while her son wore no shirt.  This was  to immerse them in what she called skin to skin contact essential for bonding and for maximum early brain development of the infant. You will learn from this newsletter that all of this does get the baby off to a better start in life which has lasting consequences.  There is also research on the importance of this skin to skin contact.
A study showed that females with higher OT in the first trimester bonded better with their babies. Another study showed that those with high OT throughout pregnancy and in the first month post- partum exhibited more behaviors supporting their exclusive relationship with their baby. We can reasonably infer that a mother with difficulty emotionally relating to her baby, may be suffering from inadequate production of Oxytocin. In research, mothers who had higher levels of OT during mid-pregnancy were less apt to suffer post-partum depression (PPD) which is partially related to OT issues. But it's not that simple, and PPD is likely caused by imbalances in several hormones and neurotransmitters.
Infant and early childhood neglect or abuse can cause atrophy of the OT circuits. This can result in lasting social impairment with the individual having difficulty feeling love or trust and existing in a self-centered survival mode. However, we need to be very careful not to get in to the old attitude of blaming the mother for all the child's problems. Many things can go wrong genetically, biochemically and structurally which can predispose an infant/child toward malfunctioning OT circuits. I treated some of these child psychiatric inpatients during my time at the Neuropsychiatric Institute, UCLA. I worked with some children who reportedly had normal loving early parenting (at least by parent interview and evaluation). Yet these children had almost no capacity to care for others or to develop relationships. These were very young children who set their animals on fire, behaved with hostility and aggression
toward others and themselves, and basically behaved like wild animals. I have often wondered what became of each of them. Now I can assume part of their problem may have related to oxytocin malfunction.
Animals that receive more grooming from their mothers are able to manage social stress, and they have higher levels of OT in certain parts of the brain. In animal studies, if a mother neglects the baby the OT receptors atrophy. Monkeys raised without mothers have lower levels of OT than those reared normally. Children raised with severe early neglect may later have symptoms similar to autism. Also they have a lower subsequent OT response when given attention than  do normal children. 
Recent research has discovered OT is an intrinsic component and
determinant of a variety of cognitive, emotional, psychological, physiological,  grooming, affiliative, sexual and reproductive behaviors and is secreted throughout life, not just at birth or in early development. It is a part of our everyday lives. Our OT neurochemical pathways which have  developed from the interactive processes of our lives regulate ALL  our social attachments, and our ability to create and maintain social ties. A positive environment and everyday positive social interaction continuously activates our OT system. The repeated exposure to this hormone produces long lasting beneficial effects which influence other hormone and neurotransmitter systems.
We can reasonably infer that Oxytocin has a function in whatever area it is found or wherever there are receptor cells.  Researchers use this information as a guide to important areas of research re the actions and benefits of oxytocin.  Most of these functions are not yet fully explored and understood. We do know that OT interacts with the opioid and dopamine systems in the brain. We do know that serotonin leads to an elevation of OT levels.
Just as with any hormone or neurotransmitter, we have varying amounts of OT in our bodies and varying responsivity from our oxytocin receptor sites. Each hormone and each neurotransmitter must have cells to link to in order to create their effects. These are receptor cells, existing specifically to receive that substance and make corresponding changes in the body. 
We'll detail the body locations of OT and OT receptors because it is important towards understanding the wide range of effects and ultimate therapeutic possibilities. 
There are oxytocin receptors in many parts of the brain and spinal cord such as the:
Amygdala is the area of the brain which detects threats, processes fear, is involved with defensive behavior and communicates this to the rest of the brain. It is also a brain area which is involved with phobias, social isolation, and sleep problems.
Ventromedial hypothalamus is the brain region associated with satiety and therefore highly implicated with eating issues and disorders.  It is also important in female sexual behavior and "play" behavior.
Hippocampus: is the brain area which relates to memory and spatial orientation.
Septum: is an area considered a pleasure zone. It plays a role in reward and reinforcement and integrates fibers from many different brain areas. The more OT receptors located in brain regions associated with reward, the more fulfilling are social interactions!
Nucleus accumbens: is a collection of brain cells playing an important role in reward, pleasure, laughter, addiction, aggression, fear and the placebo effect.
Pineal gland: is an area which produces melatonin which modulates sleep/wake cycles and seasonal functions and some immune functions.
Brain stem: is an area which regulates cardiac and respiratory function, regulates the central nervous system, maintains consciousness and regulates the sleep cycle. All nerve connections from the brain to the body pass through this area, so essentially this area is involved in all motor and sensory systems.
Outside the brain oxytocin containing cells or receptors are found in the adrenal medulla, pancreas, kidneys, fat cells, thymus, retina, heart, uterus, spinal cord, vascular beds, ovaries, testicles, prostate, and the placenta.
Oxytocin is involved in penile erection and ejaculation and is released with orgasm in the male and female. Some have felt the chemical high following fulfilling sex can be similar to taking opiates with the increase in OT, serotonin, vasopressin and other endogenous opioids. Stimulation of the nipples, vagina and cervix during sex cause oxytocin release. 
 Oxytocin is released when there are feelings of closeness and bonding such as in families, friendships, or romantic interests. It is released with cuddling, positive touching and nourishing caring supportive behaviors and environments.  Even "acting loving" can produce more OT which then makes us feel more loving.
Oxytocin is released following positive shared social interactions and we can hope positive psychotherapy supports OT release. Activities such as soft touching, massage, pleasant reading and music, positive stimulation of the senses, warm climate, eating a good meal, soldiers marching together, a sports team warming up before a match, people praying together in church, ritual dancing of primitive tribes, etc. cause the release of oxytocin. This produces a bonding, a feeling of closeness and a willingness to help others. "Oxytocin makes us feel what others feel which not only motivates us to avoid doing things to hurt others, but actually makes us feel pleasure when we bring others joy."
The amount of OT we release is associated with our ability to maintain healthy relationships and healthy psychological boundaries. In a study, those women whose OT levels rose in response to massage and remembering positive relationships reported having little difficulty setting appropriate boundaries, being alone, or trying too hard to please others. Women whose OT levels fell in response to remembering a negative emotional relationship reported greater problems experiencing anxiety in close relationships. The researchers concluded, "It seems that having this hormone 'available' during positive experiences and not being depleted of it during negative experiences is associated with well being in relationships." In response to positive emotions, women currently in close committed relationships had greater OT release than did singles.
Oxytocin is decreased by any negative stress, chronic excess stress, excess corticol, excess water, social isolation, detachment, bad social experiences, fear, anger, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Certain nutrient deficiencies can lead to OT depletion. The release of OT is promoted by having adequate amounts of the precursor nutrients needed for its formation in the body. Oxytocin is formed from a sequence of the nutrient precursor amino acids, cysteine-tyrosine-isoleucine-glutamine-asparagine-proline-leucine-glycine-amine. So we could assume amino acid deficiencies could lead to an oxytocin deficiency. Since the pyridoxal-5-phosphate (PSP)form of vitamin B6 is also essential for any amino acid functioning in the body, we could assume a P5P deficiency would lead to less OT formation. The oxytocin receptors require the presence of adequate amounts of magnesiumand cholesterol to function properly, so a deficiency of either of these could cause a malfunction. Oxytocin is produced by a series of enzyme reactions one of which requires Vitamin C as a necessary co-factor so we can assume a vitamin C deficiency could deplete oxytocin. It has also been found that Vitamin C can directly stimulate OT production.
  • Increases libido and sexual arousal and is involved in romantic attachment. Oxytocin bonds couples together because it decreases anxiety and evokes feelings of contentment, calmness and security around a mate. These OT mediated feelings  induce one to prefer and to frequent the company of a mate. Those who are deficient in OT may often notice they do not wish to cuddle, to be held, or to be intimate.
  • Has broad influences on social behaviors, cognitive processes, and emotional regulation. Oxytocin activates the social centers of the brain.  It is a pro-social hormone which stimulates positive social interaction, greater sociability, social affiliation, more gregarious behavior and decreases withdrawal related behavior.
  • Is calming, induces trust and decreases fear. It increases generosity, sharing and empathy, thus again supporting the bonding process. It can even increase trust of strangers. Social rewards trigger more OT release than financial gain or rewards.
  • Increases the tendency to look at or into another persons eyes and  improves the ability to understand anothers'  emotions from looking into their eyes. It improves the general empathic ability to infer the emotional states of others. In research those who genetically had more workable receptor sites for oxytocin were more adept at inferring the mental/emotional states of others and had higher consistent levels of empathy. Some have called oxytocin "the moral molecule" because it allows us to feel empathy for others & causes us to behave morally.
  • Helps regulate cardiovascular function and has a cardio-protective response to stress.  Those with poorer OT reception show greater stress intolerance and more intense levels of cardiovascular reactivity to stress as well as higher reactivity to stress across a variety of stressful conditions.
  • Helps control blood pressure, since OT regulates cardiovascular function and autonomic nervous system function.  This explains why patients lacking this hormone have trouble controlling their blood pressure when going from a sitting to upright position, or when standing for a long  time.
  • Helps with microcirculation.  OT is known to be one of the controlling influences on the microcirculation of the human body and brain.  Cold hands and feet can be symptoms of OT deficiency as OT controls capillary circulation in the arms and legs. Those with OT deficiency may also have a history of recurrent headaches. Oxytocin helps dilate the blood vessels by stimulating the production of nitric oxide, a powerful vasodilator.
  • Plays an important role in the stress response by reducing fear and increasing social affiliation and trust. In fact the positive effects of OT are most apparent under stressful conditions. Oxytocin can directly and immediately reverse the bodys' response to stress. When stressed the body produces excess cortisol. Oxytocin can decrease the cortisol by inhibiting the pituitary release of ACTH, the hormone which stimulates the production of cortisol. However, too much stress has the potential to deplete OT.
  • Is anti-inflammatory and improves wound healing by decreasing certain cytokines. Recent research has shown that social discord increases inflammation. Could this be aggravated by the decreased oxytocin release caused by social stress?
  • Acts to increase the pain threshold, so in that sense has a somewhat anesthetizing effect. There are implications for its use in those with chronic pain.
  • Has potent central effects on feeding behavior and is involved in the central regulation of food intake. It is a mediator of satiety and a regulator of body weight. Blocking the OT activity in animals caused increased food intake by blocking the satiety effects of cholecystokinin(CCK). Eating causes the stomach to release CCK which travels up the vagus nerve to the brain and triggers OT which travels back to cause the smooth muscle of the stomach to contract and feel full. Oxytocin deficient mice develop late onset obesity without necessarily overeating. They have an increased abdominal fat pad,decreased levels of adrenaline, are insulin resistant and glucose intolerant.
  • Helps regulate gastric mobility. Those with normal gastric emptying have increased OT after eating while those with delayed emptying called gastric paresis do not have increased OT levels. Patients with this problem showed an improvement in GI function and stomach emptying time when given oxytocin.
  • ls a direct anabolic regulator of bone mass which means it stimulates the formation of bone. Oxytocin stimulates osteoblasts which build bone, and inhibits  osteoclasts which break down bone. Deletion of OT or OT receptors in mice causes osteoporosis from reduced bone formation. 
  • Aids concentration, contributes to mental alertness and improves memory.  Also facilitates memory for social information & learning.   Those low in this hormone may feel like they are in a mental fog.
  • Supports sleep.   OT is made in the pineal gland of the brain, as is melatonin, a hormone which enhances sleep.  Animal studies suggest sleep is induced as the level of OT goes up in the brain.
  • OT malfunction has possible significance for impaired glucose tolerance as found in Type 1 diabetes and extremely obese patients.  Researchers suggest there is an important link between OT & glucose metabolism.
  • Has a role in regulating cell proliferation. In human breast cancer cell lines it inhibited estrogen induced cell growth.
The deficiency of OT is likely associated with a variety of maladaptive behaviors and states of being.  It is also connected with certain health conditions.  The study of OT may shed light on why and how positive social relationships have consistently been associated with better health. 
Part 2  of this newsletter will present some of the research  and implications for using OT to treat anxiety, autism, PTSD, and certain other social and medical disorders.
Until next newsletter, but hope you will visit our Facebook Posts daily,
Priscilla Slagle, M.D.

PRISCILLA SLAGLE, M.D. or Cathy Jones, Assisitant
Phone: 1 (760) 322-7797
Fax: 760-322-7608
In this Issue:

How Can You tell if You Have Hardening of Your Arteries?
You can now use a device at home to measure the stiffness of your arteries.
Hardening of the arteries, commonly known as atherosclerosis, is a common disorder associated with the aging process, especially in men over 50 and women over sixty.  Fat, cholesterol, calcium and other substances build up in the walls of arteries to create hard structures called plaques.  Plaque buildup narrows your arteries making them stiffer and blocking blood flow.
Arterial stiffness has been long known to increase cardiovascular risk. As the arteries harden they become less elastic which requires the heart to work harder to pump blood through the body.  This stresses the left ventricle of the heart. The ventricle may also enlarge as the muscle has to work harder to pump blood against the resistance of the constricted hardened arteries. This enlargement can weaken the heart. Arterial stiffness also increases  systolic blood pressure & pulse pressure (the pressure change between the systolic and diastolic blood pressure). There is decreased perfusion pressure (the injection of fluid into a blood vessel in order to reach an organ or tissues to supply nutrients and oxygen). All of this increases the risk of heart attacks, heart failure and strokes.
 Diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure  and renal failure also play a part in increasing the stiffness of the arteries.
If you are a non-smoker, who exercises regularly and watches your diet, you may think this is not relevant to you, but it could be. Many people are unaware there is a problem with their arteries becoming stiff until they suffer a major cardio-vascular episode. Knowing the state of your arteries before something happens and taking the appropriate preventive measures could save your life.  Yes, there are steps you can take to increase the elasticity of your arteries!
Measuring arterial stiffness was both difficult & expensive until now. Fortunately, the Bio Clip Cuff is now available.  It is a simple way of assessing if you are at risk of heart attack or stroke from inelastic arteries.
There’s no need for expensive blood pressure equipment. You simply attach the device to your arm using an ordinary blood pressure cuff.
The Bio Clip Cuff is safe and easy to use. The procedure is straightforward and you don’t need to link to a computer because the results are shown on the machine itself.
An electronic graph display shows if your arteries are normal (green) stiffening (yellow) or stiff (red). In addition, the screen also shows your current heart pulse while at rest, and both your systolic and diastolic blood pressures.
Most importantly, there is something you can do to improve the condition of your arteries. There are a number of natural supplements that can help to reverse arterial stiffness, they include:
The Bio Clip gives you a way of measuring the effectiveness of supplementation as well.  Remember keeping your arteries soft & clean can help prevent cardio-vascular disease.

New Products at The Way Up
We are pleased to introduce this month's three new additions to our already extensive product line.
  • Healthy arteries
  • Normal blood pressure
  • Regular heart beat
  • Healthy circulation
  • Normal cholesterol
  • Higher energy levels
  • Healthy libido
  • Sharper memory
  • Healthy Vision
This product is absorbed up to seven times better than conventional curcumin, making this patented formula the most cost-effective way to supplement with this critical spice plant. In fact it has been shown that one 400 mg capsule a day of this turmeric compound can provide curcumin blood levels equal to ingesting 2,500–2,800 mg of commercial curcumin supplements.
Studies have shown Curcumin:
  • Helps inhibit osteoclast formation (osteoclasts break down bone)
  • Inhibits leukotriene formation (an inflammation causing chemical in the body.) inhibiting platelet clumping, & prompting the dissolution of clots.
  • Has exhibited potent antioxidant activities.
  • May protect against environmental carcinogens, especially cigarette smoke.
  • Has anti-inflammatory effects which may be partially  related to making more cortisol available from the adrenal gland or improving responsiveness to cortisol.
  • Helps decrease the inflammation causing tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a).
  • Combined with soy may help prevent hormone-related cancers.
  • In animal studies exhibits antimutagenic & anticarcinogenic properties.
  • Affects bile output from the gallbladder.
Is a homeopathic remedy obtained from the roots of the South African Pelargonium sidoides (known as EPs 7630). These root extracts  have demonstrated antibacterial and immunomodulation (adjustment of the immune response to a desired level) properties, especially in the respiratory tract.
Studies have shown it to help ease the symptoms of:
  • Common Colds
  • Acute Bronchitis
  • Sore Throat (Tonsillopharyngitis)

Quick Brussel Sprouts and Kale
  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 1 pound lacinato kale, shredded
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (1/2 cup)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (I prefer celtic sea salt)
  • 1/8 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  1. Trim ends of brussels sprouts and shred in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Trim kale, removing thick center stems, and shred.
  3. Heat oil in a large straight-sided saute pan over medium-high heat. When oil shimmers, add shallots and cook until shallots begin to soften and sweat, 1 minute.
  4. Add brussels sprouts, kale, salt, and red-pepper flakes to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, remove from heat, and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart Living

About Dr. Slagle
Priscilla Slagle, M.D. is in the private practice of Nutritional and Functional Medicine & Psychiatry in Palm Springs, California.
Dr. Slagle has incorporated vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs, natural hormones & other natural substances into her practice since 1975, being one of the pioneers in the Alternative Medicine Field. She also incorporates hypnosis, EFT, and other reprogramming techniques.
Her book "The Way Up From Down" presents her natural "precursor" methods for lifting low moods & relieving the negative effects of stress.