‘Love’ Hormone Can Be Used To Treat Anorexia, Studies Find

Falling in love, according to Finnish rock star Ville Valo, can kill your heart.

But according to scientists, being in love can possibly be the next groundbreaking treatment for anorexia, the deadliest psychiatric disorder in the world.

According to BBC, studies in UK and Korea have found that oxytocin, a hormone that is usually released when people feel love for another, was found to lessen people’s fixation on food and body image.

A separate study in Australia also concluded that oxytocin, more commonly known as the “love hormone”, has been observed to reduce people’s concern about weight and shape.

In one of the studies, 31 patients diagnosed with anorexia and 33 people without anorexia were subjected to an experiment where they were asked to look at images of people with different body shapes. People with anorexia were seen to focus longer on images of overweight bodies.

After looking at the images, they were given either a dose of the “love hormone” or a placebo treatment. They were again asked to look at the images of people with different body shapes.

Patients with anorexia, who previously lingered more on images with overweight bodies, were seen to be less likely to focus on pictures of overweight bodies after taking a dose of the “love hormone”.

In a related study, the same groups were asked to look at different expressions – anger, sadness, or disgust. The anorexia patients treated with the “love hormone” were found to focus less on the emotion of disgust, an expression most experts note as a critical emotion in anorexia.

Youl-Ri Kim, one of the researchers from Seoul, South Korea, said that the “love hormone” was effective in reducing tendencies among patients of anorexia to focus on concepts related to their condition such as body fat, food consumption and disgust.

However, Janet Treasure, one of the researchers from King’s College London, says that a much larger number of participants is needed to conclude a clearer answer on the benefits of the “love hormone” to anorexia.

Anorexia is a complex psychiatric disorder that affects one in 200 women in America. In a recent study reported by the Inquisitr, it was discovered that a bigger brain was related to the possibility of the occurence of anorexia among teens.

Oxytocin is what the body produces when we are in love. It is the one of the hormones that are released during love making and childbirth. Oxytocin is produced when we feel deep love and attachment for one another.

[Image from Mohammadali F. via Flickr]