Nick Lavars | Gizmag
Oxytocin is often called the “love hormone” due to its role in encouraging social behaviors, love and long-term bonding. Now, scientists have discovered that it might have something to offer those with weak knees of a different kind. Research carried out at the University of Sydney has established that the hormone can curtail the intoxicating effects of alcohol in rats, suggesting that a sobriety pill for humans could one day become a reality.
Earlier experiments have demonstrated that oxytocin can halt the development of a tolerance to alcohol’s sedative effects and also help to prevent cravings and addiction.
But this new research represents a much improved understanding of how oxytocin interacts with the brain when alcohol is flowing through the body. In their study, the scientists delivered the hormone to the brains of rats who had been given an intoxicating dose of alcohol. Observing the behavior of the rodents, they found that the oxytocin served to prevent the sloppy movements we normally associate with being drunk.
“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,” says Dr Michael Bowen, from the University of Sydney’s School of Psychology and lead author on the study.