10 Unusual Ways to Release Oxytocin Into Your Life


I disgust myself.

When I was six I used to make fun of one kid for being heavier than me.

When I was seven I made fun of a kid for being Chinese. He was the only Chinese kid in the neighborhood. I was a seven year old racist. He was so upset the principal had to talk to me.

The punishment – we had to ride with each other on the bus every day. He was more upset than me about this.

When I was nine I was caught shoplifting football cards. This after a successful crime career lasting for about a year where I had stolen everything from candy to Charlie Brown books to Mad books to baseball cards.

My parents were so angry they cancelled my birthday party that was coming up. Then they never let me have one again.

I still don’t have birthday parties. Because I stole a football card.

I did lots of things. Things much later. Ugh. I can hardly think of it. The things that I would do.

I’m like a psychopath or sociopath when I really get down to it. Worst of all, I go to the bathroom. I’ve never seen a more disgusting thing than my own human body going to the bathroom. Ugh.

Google: I need to talk to you about this! You are making a car that drives without a driver. You are making glasses that wire my brain right into the Internet. Why the hell can’t you make it so I don’t have to shit.

Like, can’t I wear glasses that do photosynthesis from the sun and turn into nutrition for my body. Nutrition with no waste. Why, for everything I eat, do I have to generate waste? This is almost proof that Satan exists.

And even worse, some of the waste gets stuck. If you’re not yet my age (44) you’ll start to know what I’m talking about. It gets stuck forever.

I’ve switched diets recently. No carbs. No processes sugars. Not even gluten-free stuff, which is all a scam. And, I have to say, the quality of what comes out of me has become much better. Nor do I feel as stuffed.

So, OK, glass half full. Right?

Let me tell you the real bad news, although it won’t seem that way. Our alien ancestors who created us also created simple tools (call them “triggers” if you will) so that we can reprogram our bodies to be happy.

What does happy mean? It means various chemicals get manipulated throughout the body. Cortisol levels go down. Cortisol is the “fight or flight” hormone.

So, like, when you are sitting at your desk staring at a computer screen and you are worried your boss is going to yell at you, your cortisol levels are going through the roof.

In other words, your body wants to do what it would’ve done 20,000 years ago (a micro-second in our evolutionary history) and basically run as fast as possible or physically destroy whatever is scaring you. Fight OR flight. Note the “OR”.

There really isn’t an in-between that says, “don’t move and simply stare at your computer screen while you are simmering in unrequited anger and frustration.”

That wasn’t part of the evolutionary plan. That’s what the neanderthals did probably. And look at what happened to them. They’re dead. Every last one of them.

So what do you do? In our modern day and age. You sit there, you stare at the computer screen, you maybe type some words but then your brain is distracted. You can’t think. Your cortisol is through the roof and nothing is working it off.  That’s really horrible. The cortisol needs to be worked off. Or else. You are royally *******.  You can get cancer, heart disease, strokes, Alzheimers, the whole works.

And if you are like me, if you are like most people, then chances are this is happening to you every day.

Here’s what happens.

The vagus nerve stretches from your brain to your stomach and hits every organ along the way (almost). It gets inflamed when your cortisol levels are too high for too long. The vagus nerve basically causes every disease known to mankind. High stress inflames it, as does bad food, smoking, etc. You get the drift.

 What suppresses the inflammation?

Another hormone that the body is more than happy to release. Oxytocin. Oxytocin performs two very important functions that allow the human race to continue. But these functions have various beneficial side effects.

  1. Oxytocin is released when you have an orgasm. For men, interestingly, it is only released when you have an orgasm with someone you love.
  2. Oxytocin is released when a woman is in labor. It helps the cervix stress so it’s in less pain. It’s released for women, that is. For men, when the female cervix starts to expand it’s the beginning of about nine years of agony.
Basically, Oxytocin is the hormone that is there at the critical moments of life creation. It’s the “life hormone.”
It also helps reduce cortisol levels (you know that feeling of relaxation you get after sex) and it reduces inflammation of the vagus nerve. (I sort of like that word: “vagus.” It’s both “vague” and “vaginal”).
So I’m not going to point to all the research. You can google it with your glasses. But basically, there’s various ways you can trick the body into releasing oxytocin. The benefits are simple: you feel better and you will live longer and you will reduce stress and be happier.
Here are ten ways:

A) Give money away.

Turns out that showing compassion in a visceral way like giving money is linked to higher levels of oxytocin. My guess is that giving to charity is not the way to do it. I prefer my method of being a superhero that I write about in this post.

B) Hugging someone. 

Touching and hugging release oxytocin with hugging more powerful than touching and hugging someone you love even better than normal hugging.
So a hug is better than a handshake. But almost as good as hugging is imagining yourself being hugged or cuddled by someone you love.
Huh. It’s really funny how the brain does that.    

C) Using facebook.

I like to browse my facebook timeline and occasionally “Like” a photograph that a random friend from 30 years ago posted. I would never in a Million years call that friend and say, “that was a real cute photo of your baby that you posted.” But liking the photo is my way of connecting with someone that I have felt close to at some point in my life, even if it was only because her locker was next to mine in junior high school.

Guess what, using social media in this way turns out to release oxytocin. You know you feel good when you do it. Do it more. IN particular, facebook like all of my blog posts. [The funny thing is, someone has actually done this scientific research and demonstrated it. Not the part about liking my blog posts but about facebook in general. Although liking my blog posts will certainly release Oxytocin. You can start now if you want.]

C) Laughter.

I will tell you my pre-date secret. In the brief period when I was single in between separation and re-marriage I had a technique before every date. I would watch either Michael Cera doing comedy or Louis CK doing standup.

This would get me laughing, make my oxytocin hormones go on fire, and then I’d go right into the date, with all my sex hormones raging. Plus. I would be temporarily funnier, with a half-life of about two hours. I knew after four hours I would be boring again so the date would have to be over by then. I do this before talks also.


D) Take a walk.

Note: I didn’t say take a run. Running is great for reducing the metabolism but so is eating better. Else, for me at least, running is really hard. I hate it. But I love to walk. Walk in the sun. The sun is a nutrient. And a half hour won’t kill you, despite what global warming people say.

Walking outside, as you might guess, is statistically correlated with higher levels of oxytocin. Well, you say, I can’t walk. I have meetings all day. If you can, try to take a walking meeting. This helps you bond more with the person you are meeting with, and you might even have an adventure along the way (guess what – scientific research shows that having an adventure with someone also releases oxytocin. I guess because then you know when you are chasing wolves with someone then you will feel safer).

The last time I had a walking meeting with a friend, a guy started yelling me from a car and I challenged him (with a smile on my face) to a fight. My friend had to drag me away while the guy was parking his car and getting ready to kill me. It was fun. It was an adventure. I felt thrilled. Several months later, I had a walking meeting with that same friend just yesterday.

E) Shoot guns. 

Call up a friend right now. Make an appointment at a gun gallery. And shoot guns. I don’t know what to tell you. This releases oxytocin also.

F) Call someone. 

It’s good to talk to a friend. I don’t have a lot of friends. I have about three people on my call list. Maybe four if I stretch it. Maybe five. I don’t know. Maybe 50.

I like a lot of people but I’m too shy to call them. But maybe I should. And just chat for a few minutes. Like we all used to do when we were kids. “Hey, how are you doing? What’s up?” This feels good. It’s like a vocal hug with someone we like. Vocally hug people today.

G) Being trusted.

This is hard. You can’t force people to trust you. And trusting someone doesn’t release oxytocin. But being trusted does. So live your life in such a way that more and more people will trust you.

Guess what: you will be viewed in a more charismatic way if people trust you than if people don’t trust you. Why not try this? How can you be more trusted. Oh my god, why so many questions today? My hands are already tired. I’m about 1497 words already.

H) Listening to soothing music.

Just lying down and listening to music releases oxytocin. That’s why women in labor are encouraged to listen to soothing music. That’s why people having sex listen to soothing music.

I don’t even really know what soothing music means. I keep thinking of the 90s rap group PM Dawn. But I’m sure there are better examples (Spandau Ballet?).

I) Trust me when I say this:

Here is my Oxytocin-rich meal: eggs, mixed with bananas, with pepper. Each ingredient known to release high levels of oxytocin.

So why not eat them all together: something sweet, something savory, something spicy, a fruit, some protein, its all good.

Eat a big plate of that and nothing else. BAM! You are off for the day on an oxytocin spurt.

And finally:

J) Deep breathing.

When the vagus nerve is inflamed your breathing becomes more shallow. It’s fight or flight time! You are panicking. Your breath becomes quick. Stop it! Breathe deep.

Let me tell you something: most people think “yoga” is all those exercises where people are standing upside down and doing weird things. In the Yoga Sutras, written in 300 BC, there are 195 lines divided into four chapters. In all those lines ONLY ONE LINE refers to physical exercise. It basically says, “be able sit up straight.” That’s it.

That’s the only reference in the Yoga Sutras to physical exercise. Just as important is an area of yoga called pranayama which has to do with deep breathing.

Basically, yoga measures a lifespan in the number of breaths you take. A dog pants fast and dies young. A turtle breathes slow and lives to over 100. Pranayama is the art of breathing slower and slower and using your cavities in your bodies other than your chest cavity to hold your breath (i.e. your abdomen, for instance).

You don’t have to be a pranayama expert. I don’t want to be one. But the simplest exercise is to sit there and hold your breath for 8 seconds, breath out for 8 seconds, breathe in for 8 seconds, hold, etc. Do that for ten minutes a day. They didn’t say this in 300 BC but your oxytocin comes out to play during these moments. I could put links to all the scientific research on these things. But it’s worth googling to check out if you don’t believe me.

(it connects all the parts of your body to your brain. Don’t let it get inflammed or you will die).

This is all good and bad news. The good news is that there is a chemical in your brain that when released, makes you feel good for up to two weeks. And if a lot of it is released you either feel like you are having an orgasm for two weeks or, I don’t know, like your cervix is being expanded for two weeks. I have no idea on that one.

The bad news is exactly the same. A CHEMICAL will make you feel good for two weeks. In other words, our basic human bodies are no better than Pavlovian dogs – triggered to salivate when the right stimuli hits our 200,000 year old evolutionary brains. We’re no better than the dogs. No better than the jellyfish that crawled out of the bottom of the ocean and then formed tentacles, then arms, then brains.

Forget all self-help. It’s all garbage. It’s all about this one silly chemical. The news lately is all about Higgs-Boson being the “god particle.” Well, oxytocin is the “god hormone.”

That said, I’ll do all of the above. I need my body functioning. I need to get rid of mental waste and physical waste and emotional waste. Why not?

But at the end of the day it’s spiritual waste that I’m after. And how do you get that? How do you get to that peculiar desire of trying to have no desires. Because when you expect nothing, you have the immense satisfaction of getting everything you want.

How do you get there?

It’s not Oxytocin. I won’t be fooled into believing it. But if it makes me shit out my mental and emotional waste better then sign me up.

Being happy is a good start. But oxyocin is just the flower. And you can’t see the flower without the light. The goal is to be the light.

Oh, and here is my favorite book on happy chemicals and how to enhance your happiness levels: Habits of a Happy Brain: Retrain Your Brain to Boost Your Serotonin, Dopamine, Oxytocin and Endorphin Levels

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  • dicky

    James that’s the molecular structure for oxytocin not the chemical formula. Although you can get the formula easily from the structure! :)

    • I think that just underlines how little I learned from several years of college chemistry and biology.

  • “Oxytocin is released when you have an orgasm. For men, interestingly, it is only released when you have an orgasm with someone you love.”

    This absolutely rules out the possibility of the existence of a male higher power!

    • I guess evolution wants the man to stick around and feel protective towards the mother and the children.

      • Good point. On a side note, I went to a Vipassana retreat a few years back and the instructor looked to be in his mid-twenties. He was 42. The deep breathing really does work.

  • I had to read this a couple of times before I realized that you were discussing oxy*tocin* and not oxy*contin*!

    • I get confused between the two as well. Maybe the drug is an artificial way of releasing the chemical.

      • ringlis

        Yes. The drug is the synthetic version of the hormone. That’s why it works so well and is so addictive – its pretty much the same thing our bodies crave to live. Funny that…

        • salt_bagel

          Not really. Oxycontin is a brand name for the drug oxycodone, which is a narcotic. It’s addictive because it’s in the same class of drugs as heroin or morphine. It is in no way related to oxytocin, other than they both make you feel good.

          • melymel

            yes salt_bagel is correct! lol oxycontin is in no way connected to oxytocin! c’mon people!

          • jessesloan

            Oxytocin and Oxycontin both effect opioid receptors, that is the similarity, besides similar spelling.

    • ha. I misread the headline too.

  • I was wondering where you were going with this.
    The people who say our feelings are “only” chemicals and reduce the human experience to biological words, I generally disagree with. So, I was glad you brought it all home in the end.

    A good lesson in not being fooled by science-y reductionism.

  • Ligooshka

    Loved it!

  • Yoyo Hoho

    Watch out, James. Eggs cause constipation.

  • This is soothing music: http://rd.io/x/QVo4yzc3zsw

  • Mihai-Radu Onofreiciuc
  • I haven’t been constipated since I had my colonoscopy!

  • JMark

    JA: Here’s a tip: take the mirrors out of the bathroom. JM

  • Sarah

    Great article…I wonder if it’s wrong that I’m now compulsively counting 8 second breaths. Seems wrong somehow.

  • kuldeep Bhatt

    Sex is enough for release of oxytocin

  • Mike Rothfuss


  • TB at BlueCollarWorkman.com

    “(it connects all the parts of your body to your brain. Don’t let it get inflammed or you will die).” <– I think this was my favorite part, haha! The OJ Simpson card was a nice touch too. Ya know, my job is in construction so whenever I get pissed, there's always some hammering to do and that probably counts as "fight" in fight or flight. :-) Oh dude, also, if you started photosynthesizing you actually would have waste! Of course it's a much "nicer" waste… oxygen! And, dead leaves! Both still preferable to what we do though :)

  • Smoke pot!

    • traderGang

      actually, James discusses breathing techniques that offset the benefits and high that THC can provide. Plus..going through an ounce of kush every month adds up…unless you have a fence that is a dome and you can grow it.

  • ravi raaj singh

    i like it………

  • Pomfretcurry

    What a good idea!
    Fixing the god hormone right now is going to be a good start for me.
    Being the light can wait for the moment.
    Best wishes for your ‘goal’ …

  • Oriain

    Interesting article and full of good advice…save for one odd choice. Facebook? As a source for happiness? Really? I’m one of the 1% that still doesn’t “get it” with FB. Personally, I put it in the mental waste category. Everything else in the article, however, is fairly sound advice.

    • Orbspiders

      Facebook is a tool that serves different purposes for different people. My family is very large and geographically diverse. Before Facebook, I’d see my cousins once every decade or so (some less often). Now, when I get home for the day I can quickly scroll through my Facebook feed and instantly I’m in touch with my family. Of course there are the people that post things that are entirely mental waste, but you have the ability to control how much (if any) of their material you want to view. It really is a very flexible platform, and with fairly little effort it can definitely be tweaked to produce small bursts of oxytocin. If you ever do decide to join, make one rule: don’t be afraid to unfriend someone who is a crappy person and who adds nothing positive to your life.

  • Cobalt Nebula

    This was actually a really exciting read for me, as I’ve been contemplating oxytocin of late (see in my recent post on TDP). “But almost as good as hugging is imagining yourself being hugged or cuddled by someone you love.” This was proven with imaging studies in athletes who visualized shooting hoops and then actually did them – exact same areas of the brain light up. In other words, our brains can’t tell the difference between real and imagined activity (although there is an additional part of the brain that knows whether or not there is actual movement). This lends credence to the old dictum, “fake it till you make it”! So, for the singles out there – if you get no sexy hugs but imagine that you do, you get the same oxytocin burst, which apparently makes you instantly more attractive to someone who might then actually want to give you that hug. If instead you are afraid you’re not going to get a sexy hug, your fear will be realized – for why would someone want to hug you, you oxytocin-less drag? I believe this is a cornerstone of the basis of the Law of Attraction, where:
    Reality = f(Imagination) across some time function, which has to do with how strongly and persistently that belief holds true in your mind. And that apparently has a bit to do with oxytocin!
    Anyway, thanks for the post, great ideas, especially the spicy-egg-banana brew.

    • Interesting way to view reality as a function of imagination across time.

      • Btw, just had the spicy (peppers) egg banana breakfast and it was excellent. Not only that but it corresponds well with the paleo diet described in Claudia’s recent post at claudiayoga.com

    • JohnMiller2013

      I don’t mean to be an oxytocin-less drag to you, but the basketball study you mentioned is not relevant to, and certainly not proof of an imagined hug being almost as good as a real one in terms of oxytocin release… and I’m not aware of any scientific support for the claim that our brains can’t tell the difference between real and imagined activity.

      But I agree, it’s a good point in general that imagining good things can and will make us healthier than imagining bad things.

      I’m new to the law of attraction. It seems accurate only in that imagining good things will make us happier and bring about better things in life. But the idea that there is a mysterious power in the universe that responds to the tone of our thoughts is bullshit.

      • Doug Gerard

        and shoot guns?! heck no!

        • Toddo

          I get SOOO relaxed after shooting guns! It’s gotta be true.

        • Sally Penfold

          Like sex, it’s gotta end with a bang! Perhaps the body doesn’t care which kind, but it’s still exciting! :)

        • Ethan May

          With a buddy

      • Vito Goldfarb

        I realize im addressing a post two years old but with your ignorant attitude johnny me boy I bet you haven’t attracted shit

        • JohnMiller2013

          Haha, thanks. The internet sure brings out the worst in people.

          • Vito Goldfarb

            Johnson!! Your still on dicus!! perhaps i was a little harsh sorry johnny

          • JohnMiller2013

            Sorry about that condescending attitude you have towards people you don’t know. By the way, I wish your wife a full and lasting recovery!

  • Cobalt Nebula

    A point of clarification: doesn’t having a goal (“being the light” or otherwise) contradict your desire of having no desires? I would think the endpoint of all spiritual enlightenment is to have no endpoints – no goals, no desires or just.. nothing. But I’m a spiritually-bereft nebula, what do I know…

    • Yes, it definitely is a contradiction. Thats why i say its a “peculiar” desire as there is no way to accurately describe it. Ultimately, English is a poor language developed by small brains to describe something that is beyond the capacity of understanding.

      • AgeOfSophizm

        I literally just wrote a post describing the confounding proposition of being unattached. If you are so focused on non-attachment, can that focus ultimately become an attachment as well?


      • Cobalt Nebula

        It’s true, we use words as our primary currency of idea exchange, and they are quite limiting. For instance, there are concepts in one language that simply don’t exist in another.
        Kabbalists have an interesting take on the “light”, where the primordial substance had both a “vessel” and a “light” that filled it. Then the vessel “decided” it wanted to BE the light and in that “wanting”, it shattered into millions of pieces. And now we, as pieces of said vessel, strive to regain our original nature as both vessel and light. My interpretation of this is that, to restore our spiritual connection, we must cease the wanting. We cannot want to be the light, because that was the original “sin”. It’s sort of the spiritual equivalent of the Observer Effect, wherein the very act of measuring a system affects the end state of the system, ergo, wanting to be the “light” will change the nature of the “light”, making it impossible to “attain”.
        Or something like that ;)


  • s_q

    barry white is soothing music =D

  • Aniol Alcaraz

    The “worth it” at the bottom of the football card is ace.

  • Jim Breed

    According to the Walter Isaacson bio, Steve Jobs liked to take lots of walking meetings.

  • I feel that running is boring and sucks when you do it by itself. But when you play a sport that you like, you don’t even realize that you’re running and it feels great.

  • Thank you :) Your post made me laugh. I may just go and like all your posts. Or maybe just some of them. Or like a random one everyday. You’ll be wondering where I’ll like next.

  • Harry

    James, what’s your opinion on the effect of the word “unusual”?

  • Daughters are delightful, sweet,kind, easy to parent, and mature between 13-17 & hormones kick in. ;)

  • I Love James

  • It’s true, I can’t resist clicking on picture of hot naked tattooed women’s asses.

    • kepeneter

      Now that the benefit of this male behavior has been revealed, I can scale back my previous female resentment! ♥

  • i love you for writing this; i truly do.
    (there: we BOTH get a little dose of oxytocin.)


    Shooting a gun might seem strange, but I can relate to that. It has to do with interacting with machines and controlling them. Sometimes, flying an airplane, for example, or sailing a boat, one settles in the repetition of actions that have become second nature; and one has the feeling to lose oneself in the seemingly endless act of maneuvering; and shooting is the same.

    • Jeff

      I agree about the gun shooting. I can’t really articulate why. It’s just a lot of fun.
      James Altucher really surprised me coming up with shooting being an oxytocin-releaser since he’s such a city-guy.

  • ne2nj

    You make me think so much about what I should and shouldn’t be doing to have a better life that I become paralyzed and do nothing. It’s pathetic. I subscribe to, but sometimes go a week or two without reading your blog posts and then kick myself for waiting so long. The reason I don’t read every post is that sometimes I think I don’t have time but really it’s because of the above (paralyzed). How and when did you become able to write easily about everything bad you’ve ever done? I want to be able to do that too. It’s so refreshing and enjoyable to read. I love your way of thinking and writing. Thank you for the blog.

  • Elsa Sagarci

    Nice & Good…… make me laugh the way you write.. Loved it….

  • Capitalistic

    Awesome post.
    I find that talking/flirting with an attractive woman helps. The flirting doesn’t have to lead anywhere, but making or attempting to make a gorgeous woman smile helps.
    Also, listening to soothing music helps. It helps me transport myself or project myself into somewhere positive.
    Avoiding the news helps. I find that the news is comparable to a sitcom: How do we numb or audience for 30 minutes? Totally pointless (think CNN).

    • mikeyhell

      Yea, flirting is good for the chemicals so long as it’s spontaneous flirting rather than calculated. I find that the more I think about it the less fun it is.

  • Apart from sex and yoga and laughter and….

    It would be remiss of me (!) not to mention some supplemental Oxytocin boosters – the easy method, saying thank you to someone you really know you should, know it’d make you feel good and this you can do at Thankly.com — then, to laugh and ponder the daily Alice-In-Wonderland-like wise or funny words from TheRepliesBook.com which is a free subscription.
    Is this self-promotion? Well it is self-website promotion yes. But it is relevant and helpful!

  • I love you, you make me get oxytocin rushes…..

  • Lee

    Why can’t I see this in my google reader anymore???!!!???

  • Orbspiders

    Excellent post James. I think there are going to be a bunch of people nibbling on peppers, eggs, and bananas this weekend. I’m interested in giving it a try…

  • kepeneter

    I’ve lived long enough as a female to verify most of what you’ve written. I’ve often thought that we are victims of our chemicals! It’s great to have this information in one fell swoop along with some ways to control our chemicals. James, you are soooo evolved. I wish more of the stock guys I follow were more like you. Thanks and Hugs.

  • ceabeze

    you make me wanna make oxytocin

  • Mary

    1) There are 11 items here. Spinal Tap reference?

    2) When making lists, it’s a good idea to use the same type of word. i.e., start with a noun phrase, or a gerund, or an action verb. Mixing and matching make for less-strong writing.

    3) Basically is misspelled. If you can edit, you might wish to.

    That said – good list. Thanks for the suggestions/reminders!

  • Esther

    Facebook releases cortisol! I’m not married yet! I don’t have children yet! Ahhhhhhhh!!!!

    I’m cool with these things when I don’t read Facebook. Facebook bad.

    • Levi McIntyre

      Don’t worry about comparing yourself to other people, you have no idea how many of those people married have little to nil love in their lives. Take your time and make sure you find someone you can love eternally.

      • Liza

        So true. Sad :(

        • Sally Penfold

          There’s that saying – better to be alone, than with someone and lonely. I made that up, but it’s true for me!

      • JohnMiller2013

        I think she was joking.

    • Bev Mabry

      Facebook is good for me – part of my social life – and since I lost tons of hearing and it’s really hard to have anything remotely resembling a normal social life, it helps me stay connected.

  • kamalravikant

    James, you’re hitting it out of the park again…

  • ahahah great read Mr. Altucher. I got a date tonight. I will use your “Laughter” tip. I’m gonna watch some Seinfeld episodes.

  • Kane Rogers

    Patting dogs also has the same effect. For us, and for them.

  • rinsac

    Wonderful! I KNOW that just reading this raised my Oxytoxin lever a lot!!!!! Thanks. I’m happy to say I try to do all these things. I believe they work.

  • Dane

    Actually, there’s more to it than fight or flight. It’s fight or flight or freeze. ‘Freeze’ is the next big thing, right!?

  • Lil Peck

    I don’t know whether to believe you that shooting releases oxytocin. However, I enjoy going out target shooting with my son very much, and that shared activity does make me feel good.

  • Gus

    Know at days end you were good person. You did something with selflessness and you’ll
    be overwhelmed with the Oxytocin. Breathe.

  • nprasanna

    First time reading your posts James. Great insights and good light-hearted writing style. Thanks for this particular post. It can be put to good use.

  • Natasha

    Yup, Buddha said it more succinctly: all life is suffering, suffering is caused by desire, to rid yourself of suffering you must rid yourself of desire. How? Read my blog, he basically said.

  • regjoys

    While chatting about metta with a friend, the word ‘oxytocin’ came up, I googled it randomly, saw your ‘unusual’ headline, and here I am. Chuckling and reading your other ‘crappy’ article, which resonates with me and some friends, whom I’ll be sharing it with. Glad I found this, thanks for sharing,.. the dhamma does work in strangely good ways. ;)

  • Thank you Jaime, you made me laugh so much. Thank you for your free dose of OXYTOCIN. We’re the same age, isn’t that interesting?…

  • 4thaugust1932

    Is Oxytocin different from Dopamine?

  • TheMaxxx

    Wow. A little off on that data there. Shooting guns releases oxytocin? LOL Hardly the case. Men only release oxytocin after orgasm when in love? Ah, no, not at all. You even have examples of oxytocin release here that even only apply to just the female brain. The male brain doesn’t release oxytocin during empathetic conversation. Giving to charity doesn’t increase oxytocin, but instead oxytocin may increase one’s disposition to give to charity. Music increased oxytocin levels in recovering hearth patients assigned to bed rest. The same results were not reproduced when people were just sitting quietly and listening to music.

    Touching, particularly in a sexually intimate way (along with orgasm) is going to produce oxytocin, for both genders. So have lots of sex. :)

    For women, verbal communication with an emphasis on emotional disclosure will get your oxytocin levels up.

    For guys, they need to get the serotonin levels up first, with a great way being goal oriented problem solving tasks.

    • Luke

      For guys, they need to get the serotonin levels up first, with a great way being goal oriented problem solving tasks.

      a very good thought, +100500

    • Natasha Ulela-Lynn Gunkel

      I thought this article seemed a bit like it took a lot of aberrant data from several studies that determined sources of oxytocin and presented it as if under those circumstances oxytocin is produced every time. Not the case. I think there is a reason that there are no sources or citing here

    • Bev Mabry

      actually, it’s pretty well prove that being generous with or helping others – or even watching someone give or get help – increases feeling good – for both sexes.

  • Hormone Man

    Cortisol is not the fight or flight hormone…

    • TheSheriff

      Interesting. What is if you don’t mind me asking?

      • Angelina


        • Natasha Ulela-Lynn Gunkel

          The fight or flight response initiates a cascade of neurotransmitter and hormonal responses. the adrenal gland DOES release epinephrine, but that in turn initiates release of cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone most closely related to the negative physiological side effects related to stress and the fight or flight response. To say that epinephrine or adrenaline are the primary neurotransmitters is incorrect. It is a complex interaction in which cortisol is probably the most physically destructive factor. This is probably why it is referenced here so heavily as something to combat in the stress response. Just in case anybody was wondering ^^

  • Darwin Maxwell

    At least three fourths of this article is factually inaccurate. Especially the part about men releasing oxytocin only during sex with someone they love. Classic. Oxytocin is released in everyone, every time, whether you’re makin love to your wife, or fuckin a hooker on the side. Hell, you could just go spank it, and you’ll get an oxytocin buzz. Or you could even say fuck everything get the stuff as a nasal spray. You don’t even need a prescription. Although I would suggest only getting it from a trusted pharmacist because how it’s stored is important, and those herbal supplement people are shady. If you’re really into shady shit, and completely unnecessary side effects though, you could try XTC too.

    As a side note, these kinds of “do this and this to stimulate whatever production in your brain” lists are really just a way for the general population to avoid the next step in logic that would come if you thought a little harder after realizing that how you think, feel, act, and perceive are products of chemicals. That you’ve spent your entire life actually doing things to achieve happiness, or contentedness, or enlightenment, when there is a nasal spray that makes you feel like you just had sex.

    • Levi McIntyre

      I was wondering if you could provide evidence about oxytocin being released every time. I would have thought it would vary because sometimes sex can be horrible with no pleasure felt at all, sometimes even making one feel sick (maybe not everyone has experienced this).

      • Darwin Maxwell

        Well that was a just a bit of generalizing on my part in saying “every time”. Not everyone operates the same way the majority does. I’m not a doctor, but from what I know, oxytocin receptors might react a little differently from person to person due to slight genetic variation. Also, I don’t think I would go as far as to say that oxytocin actually causes pleasure by itself, as much as it suppresses other factors that would cause anxiety. That’s just speculation on my part though. You’d have to ask a neurologist, or go to medical school if you want to understand all the interactions goin on up in your brain. It’s pretty complicated stuff.

        Personally, I too have had sexual experiences after which I felt the urge to burn my sheets, and scrub the memories from my brain with the rough side of a sponge. It still felt like the oxytocin buzz was there, but it was pretty minimal compared to the effects of whatever chemicals cause shame, horror, and the compulsion to shower in the fetal position. So that’s my take on that.

  • Levi McIntyre

    Might sound strange but I think what has reliably increased my oxytocin levels the most is reading the ‘Ringing Cedars of Russia’ Series by Vladimir Megre. Strongest effect is felt with book 4. Reading these books just gives me this amazing warm feeling in my heart.

    • Jess

      what’s the book about?

      • Levi McIntyre

        A Siberian man who meets a young lady that lives the life of a ‘recluse’ in the Siberian wilderness. The Ringing Cedars Series contains some of the most important revelations to appear in thousands of years of human history—so significant, they are changing the course of our destiny and rocking scientific and religious circles to the core.

        Powerful, myth-shattering messages in these books reveal profound wisdom grounded in ancient knowledge, expose suppressed secrets and hidden historical fact and offer a whole new paradigm for our planet’s future.

        • Jess

          sounds interesting. Hope it’s in English and not Russian! lol I might have a look on Amazon.

          • Levi McIntyre

            If you want I can email the first book in PDF format if you have a ebook reader, it is a 10 book series so far.

          • Jess

            I don’t have a ebook reader just yet. But thank you for offering to send the first book! That is sweet of you :)

        • Jess

          Thank you :)

  • John

    Ok, so yoga people want us to go slower and the exercise people want us to go faster? How often do doctors tell us to get our heart rate up and our respiration up? I like the yoga thing. Our bodies are like cars, our heart only has so many strokes in it, so don’t waste them running or jogging or any of those other douche bag exercises. Just sit around and go slow.

    • Good idea, John. The point of all of it is breathing. If you aren’t connected to your breathing as you are doing yoga OR running, you will be in hell – when you finally surrender the pain and focus on breathing, you are in heaven. Life = OXYgen / breath / expansion / relaxation / joy. Death = tension / stress / contraction / muscles all in a knot / oxygen starvation / pain.

  • Birdie

    I dated that laughing bastard.

  • Hi

    How do you get to that peculiar desire of trying to have no desires. That is called Nirwana in buddhism. The ultimate aim of our life. Not the materialistic heaven fully control by that father and son. Nice reading thr…

  • sapphire blu

    Wow..what an amazing article. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Jerry

    As a psychology student I had a hard time reading this.. Starting with the very beginning where you called yourself a sociopath/psychopath, these people don’t have the ability to feel empathy for others, you don’t seem to lack this. You we’re most likely deep down inside just an insecure kid.

    Than the main issue of your article… There are a few things correct, but most of it is a gigantic over-generalization or just plain wrong.

    Cortisol isn’t the ”evil hormone” and oxytocin isn’t the ”good hormone”. They both have adaptive functions. Yes cortisol is related to stress, and a lot of stress has negative effects on your health (some stress is actually good for you, by the way). But there are much more things related to stress than coritsol, just naming cortisol to sound fancy really doesn’t help. Than ocytocin.. Yes woman in labor and man/woman after an orgasm have higher oxytocin levels. But calling it a ”creation of life” hormone as no meaning or significance at all. A better way to describe it is to say that it’s a hormone that produces pro social behavior. Calling it this suddenly changes the content of this article.. Oh and another thing I really can’t stand about all the people that over-glorify oxytocin is that you people pay absolutely NO attention to the effect sizes measured in studies. To simplify this: studies administer 30 times the normal dose of oxytocin found in regular people and find behavioral differences that range from 1-5% (in very specific tasks). So saying hallelujah we’ve finally found the solution to all our problems might be a little early? And shooting a gun releases oxytocin? I’m really curious in what ”scientific study” you’ve found that..

    If you really want to feel happy: eat healthy, exercise, have a good sleeping pattern, have goals in life and work through your issues. Not a quick fix easy solution , but unfortunately the only way.

    • Dara

      Hey! You raise some great points and arguments- thank you, but your desire to be empirical and scientific has its negative limitations also. Labeling the effects of Oxytocin as a “pro-social behavior” just sucks the oxytocin right out of me. Is that really what you think/say after a hug from someone you love? “ooooohhhhhh that was some great pro-social behavior.” Nope, on a very primal level you FEEL good and that’s more than enough. The need to “prove” the value of some basic primal functions (yep – the Rhesus monkeys taken away from their mothers died ->DUH) and take refuge in “facts” does very little to propel – and maybe even deters – from the healing and indescribable effects of being seen and loved.

  • John

    One you forgot: petting and playing with a dog (and other animals, presumably) releases a ton of Oxytocin!


    Not called “Man’s Best Friend” for nothing!

  • anounymous

    “I never thought I’d win her back but with your help,Doc obodo of templeofanswer@hotmail.co.uk, I have. Thank you so much.
    Shaun, Cumbria, UK.

  • This article is so true. Whenever I go shooting I feel so happy, relaxed, it’s like therapy for me. If I was angry before I went to the gun range, I feel happier afterwards.

  • Brent Spychalski

    I have found that when you give, it always come back to you in some form. Seedtime and harvest never fail…. Great post..

  • Great article. 10/10. Would’ve been 11/10 with references. Now I have to go digging for them myself. :)

  • Ushy Ruby

    Thank you for this lovely, witty and very informative article. You certainly boosted my oxytocin levels ( I love your humour.) BIG HUG to you. xxx

  • Ladybug Char

    You are brilliant. Thanks so much for this blog. Love it!

  • Michèle Francis

    this is one of the best pieces Ive read in a long while. nice style & informative content.

  • no boat abbott

    great post! explains ‘runner’s high’ – or getting a ‘second wind’. once u regulate and slow down your breathing, the body can run fOREVER! THANKS !!!

  • orange70383 .

    Too bad the guy doesn’t even have a clue about life. He is blind as a bat. Ignorance born out of vanity.

  • oxytocin now

    you are right but eggs and bananas are constipating and constpation does not sit well with the vagus nerve. Avoiding fructose and carbs works better. Fish works best. If the body is busy storing fat it doesnt work. Less carbs plenty of muscles building exercise plus sleeping in darkness and waking at dawn. I am keen to get things right asap because I am sick of sharing this world with these viscious ferrals who consume sugar and pharmaceuticals as though the world will last forever. Let’s get this show on the road James. You know you’re right and you have supporters.

  • Liza

    Too bad I dont feel safe enough with anybody in my life to love them openly. They are all snakes, turn your back and STRIKE! Its a pain in the ass to constantly keep them in check, I can’t feel love when Im constantly defending myself from their rage-full rampages.

  • Marius Daragiu

    It’s interesting your point of view James, but none of the statements you made are supported by studies. Some state that oxytonine is binding us together more, but no such thing as making us feel more happy. I really tried to dig to see which is which, and until now, we have few knowledge about the exact response our brain makes on external triggers, especially for dopamine, oxytocin and the rest.
    Where’s some articles that I found that try to elucide this Oxytonine myth




    The last article makes some interesting points on how the research on oxytocin was in large parts made on prairie voles and not humans. I was really intrigued by this information when I first read your book, Choose yourself and then I tryed to see more details about it. Your articles are really great by the way, at least those that don’t interfere with science :D

  • Niko la Grecca

    Sadly, this article has biodeterminism written all over it. If you want to Google anything, Google the term BIODETERMINISM. An explanation of behavior using physiological factors as the only component of behavior is reductionism at it’s worst. You’re going to have people believing all they have to do is take a synthetic form of Oxytocin and they’ll be stress free. Very misleading.

    • nyanparadox

      maybe this article is telling us how to love ourselves. Masturbate is one another form of oxytocin production

  • Beet, Eggs, Wheat germ, Peppers, Bananas….Is that the comprehensive list? Or what other super oxytocin foods are there?

    • anything that’s high in tryptophan

    • Levi McIntyre

      Palm dates. Doubt eating oxytocin does much though. Kanna (Sceletium) is a herb that has more chance of increasing fond feelings & actions between people (especially couples) it has pretty strong aphrodisiac effects & it’s a great antidepressant too.

  • nyanparadox

    the first point of oxytocin release is kinda incorrect when it come to men only having it while they’re in love. Nothing more than fault statistic of men trying to be unrealistic meaningful. Men release oxytocin as much as women does [work better if u don’t tell boys to stop crying and how to be stoic] if they can get oxytocin upon masturbation to any random desire figure, surely they can release oxytocin with their loveless partner unless they’re intentionally be emotional-less while humping for society standard approval

  • Human

    This is amazing,

  • David Gordon

    Great read! Love the reality-style too. I was a junior clepto too. Just proving I was smarter as a kid. But we learn. Right-on about the sex and guns too. With shooting, I conjecture it is the blast wave that happens that physically impacts your whole blood and body pressure system. Then your body goes, “Oh my god, I felt that and I’m still alive!” What a rush. With guns, on the other hand…if you are in fight or flight cortisol mode then your fight ability has just been upped a thousand-fold as a competent gunman. Also a rush.

  • Doug Gerard

    try some saffron capsules for your rotten moods

  • JC

    God gave us oxytocin to love all

  • Lauren Abigail

    This is very good!

  • Jordon Ross

    This is some great reading matterial! I’m serious so funny. This goes to James altucher. Love you stuff man I read this post and totally shared it with my Facebook friends don’t worry I used quotation marks…seriously though bread writing I laugh and think it makes me feel better. Once I figure out how to subscribe I will. New life started over here and what I personally feel your topic is on is not only oxitocin but enlightenment and I enjoy your point of veiw…oh and these people posting crack me up…oxicontin

  • Levi McIntyre

    Poo is very important for the Earth, gardeners would know that. I would imagine if this oxytocin actually worked then having it all the time would create a tolerance, making the problem worse. I think that when you have the time to get away from the computer screen get out into the sunshine & grow some fruit/veg/herbs & actually eat them or dry your own herbs & make tea, if you do this your mind and body will feel great. I just ate a omelet with fresh Moringa from the garden & geez that Moringa makes you feel good!

  • How was this so funny and informational at once? (Rhetorical.) I found myself taking a break from work and reading every frantic word, and I’m pretty sure I released some oxytocin.

  • Shifu R. Careaga

    The saddest thing about this article is you missed almost all the best ones. Herbs, massage, craniosacral chiropractic sometimes, and especially acupuncture all cause spontaneous release of not just oxytocin, but endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine.

    Come see me I will blow your freaking mind.

  • Ashh Anderson

    WOW. This post was exactly where I needed it, when I needed it. I will be happy!
    Thank you! I am now sitting up straight, breathing in for 5 and out for 5 (I’m a smoker, baby steps to 8!) and will be running to the store for more eggs and bananas for breaky in the am!

    Thank you!!! I signed up for your email…good job! I am sold! :)

  • alfakte

    This was the best till today. Thank you.

  • Carrie Tucker

    For men, when the female cervix starts to expand it’s the beginning of about nine years of agony?

  • I read this to the end (not the usual habit)… you’re an excellent writer, and we’ll connect one day.

  • Citizen

    This article only exists to sell you the book in the link at the end. That’s why it’s written so informally and subjectively and contains no cited sources — it’s just written off the cuff to make a quick buck on an amazon affiliate link.

  • About Creativity

    Very good again.

  • jminkler

    No share buttons?

  • I probably won’t do the guns, but everything else. So does this mean there is some element of truth to the statement, “Guns don’t kill people, video games do?”

  • roundthings

    I just read that L. Reuteri casn increase Oxytocin levels. I just ordered a bottle of BioGaia Protectis which contains this probiotic strain. Taking it to see if it helps with social anxiety

  • paulie

    You have an interesting way of saying stuff. We are learning that our connection to our mother when we are babies has a very big effect on our perception of the world when our bodies release oxytocin. Oxytocin as a supplement can have adverse effects, it can make people feel fearful. I believe maybe we sometimes need to re-educate ourselves on how to direct our own bodies oxytocin. In fact I think it is a little more complicated than just trying to get ourselves to release it.Cheers!

  • I haven’t been able to find any evidence on PubMed that bananas, pepper, or eggs affect oxytocin production. Anyone know where that idea came from?

  • butler

    So don’t be “coy-toxin”; being too coy or shy, holding back the oxytocin and retaining cortisol toxins would be just ‘death by’…, by withholding a hug or even a high five.. for its the quiet shy ones that suddenly go berserk, so release the oxytocin if you want to feel good and stay alive…. or just sit there bein a jerk.. don’t be “coytoxin”, release the oxytocin!!…… soon to be the newest, ‘weett’

    • butler

      at facewordz.com the worlds first word creating colossal, Glossauricon……it’s time to face the wordz….

  • Shiva YB

    Another great article!
    Compassion in any way is good. Gratitude is better. Just being grateful to be in the midst of all the things in existence and to be a part. To wonder at the mystery and interconnectedness of trees, birds, mountains, animals, and things.
    Relaxing is necessary to slow down the thoughts. It helps psychosoma.
    Ah, music! A great way to relax. I love to listen to Deuter. Try Basho’s Pond. Out of the world.
    And diet. Fruits and vegetables. Foods fit for Gods. They keep us light and clean.
    P.S. Proteins and sugars(fruits) don’t combine. Very bad combination.