Monday, May 26, 2008

A love hormone that can ‘banish shyness’

Are you a little shaky about your first date? You could soon spray away your shyness with a ‘love hormone’ and win your girl.

Swiss researchers are developing a nasal spray, that contains oxytocin — a love chemical naturally produced in the brain, a product which they claim could help banish excessive shyness in people. Nicknamed the ‘cuddle chemical’ or the ‘love hormone’, oxytocin plays a crucial role in social relations and maternal bonding, and is also released during sex.

Inhaling the hormone lowers activity in the amygdala, a re
gion linked with fear and danger, lead researcher Thomas Baumgartner of Zurich University has reported in the latest edition of the ‘Neuron’ journal.

Trials of the nasal spray are underway on 120 patients to help treat the pathological shyness. Sufferers usually receive therapy of some kind and the trial aims to see if oxytocin can speed up the process. Results are expected later this year.

Earlier studies by the Swiss team showed that a nasal spray makes people more trusting. They also proved that use of oxytocin can outweigh the effects of rumour and gossip.

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