What is Oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter a “chemical messenger” produced in the brain affecting how we feel and behave towards each other. It helps our bodies to adapt to a whole range of emotional and social situations. Oxytocin has many other names such as the ‘cuddle hormone' or the ‘love drug’. Its main job is to help us bond with others, have a good level of empathy and help develop a deeper connection, enhancing all of our relationships including our relationship with our pets.

Your baseline Oxytocin levels are almost zero without any stimulus so you need to take action to increase your Oxytocin, check out our 100 Ways to Boost Your Oxytocin guide.

Bonding over the unique experience of doing something new with a friend can trigger oxytocin release which is why cooking, playing games and exercising are all better for us when done alongside someone else.

Oxytocin is responsible for amplifying some of our most admirable traits including love, loyalty, trustworthiness, courage, generosity and empathy. Feeling loved is one of our basic human needs and therefore when we feel loved we are able to learn, explore and grow organically. 

If we could all train ourselves to produce more Oxytocin, the world would be a happier, more loving place.

Why is it important?

As humans, we are social beings by nature which is why we live in and build families and communities together. We seek out others for companionship as it makes us feel good and if the relationships are positive it has huge benefits to our mental health. Strong relationships and therefore strong Oxytocin levels strengthens our ability to cope during times of stress. 
Oxytocin helps us build trust with others and develop friendships and relationships. Oxytocin plays a major role in parenthood with mothers producing more than father’s as it is needed for childbirth, breastfeeding and bonding with our babies. 

What happens if we have an Oxytocin deficiency?

If your body has an Oxytocin deficiency you may feel lonely, stressed, lack motivation, have low energy levels, disconnection from relationships or feel anxious. Did you know loneliness is three times more likely to cause death than smoking? This is because loneliness increases the bodies stress levels which in turn, increases blood pressure, disturbs sleep, reduces immunity, increases risk of disease and increases inflammation which contributes to heart disease. Often loneliness is a perpetual cycle when people feel lonely they avoid social interactions and therefore do not top up their Oxytocin. 

Holding a grudge or being in a mood with someone increases cortisol and decreases Oxytocin.  This means you intentionally suppress your happy chemicals if you choose to hold a grudge.

There is a relationship between oxytocin and the stress hormone cortisol when cortisol goes up, oxytocin goes down.

How can we increase our Oxytocin?

Relationships & Bonds

Spending time with the ones we love chatting, playing and bonding gives us a huge boost of happy hormones. Both giving and receiving affection increase Oxytocin, this includes cuddles, kisses, holding hands, looking into someone's eyes and being close to another person.

Doing something new

Learning a new skill or experiencing something new together magnifies the oxytocin release. This might include physical activities like sports or yoga as well as mental activities including board games and problem-solving. Working on school projects together is a great way to release Oxytocin.

Cooking Together

Cooking together is one of the best ways of boosting Oxytocin, from learning a recipe to mastering new cooking skills. Making food fun for children using colour and shapes is a way of increasing a child's Oxytocin. Check out our Happy Recipeasy cards for fun recipes to make with your children. Click the button to check out our Rainbow Carbonara

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Gratitude & Happiness

Gratitude starts with being able to stop, take notice and appreciate the good things and times in your life. Looking for all the positives and reflecting on the happy memories gives us that boost of Oxytocin and feelings of happiness. When we start to increase our practice of gratitude, we start to notice more and feel more positive and hopeful about our lives.


We often discount the power of kindness both on our own happiness and also on that of others. The smallest act of kindness can have such a huge impact on our lives, causing a big boost of Oxytocin. Acts of Kindness can be either big or small and from a place of care, concern and love. They don’t have to be big grand gestures, in fact they can be small actions like smiling at another person, words of encouragement, thoughtful gestures and acts of generosity. Download our positive postcards and create your own wave of kindness.

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When you stroke or cuddle a dog or cat, both you and the animal experience an increase in Oxytocin levels. Looking into a dog's eyes triggers the happy hormone and makes you feel an increased sense of love. Not only does playing with a pet increase Oxytocin but it can also reduce the feeling of stress and anxiety.


We can feel a huge boost of happiness and surge of Oxytocin levels by contributing, reaching out and helping in the community. There is a theory that suggests we get ‘helpers high’ when we help others and feel a real sense of belonging.

Foods that boost Oxytocin

Oxytocin is our cuddle hormone that helps to create a feeling of safety, trust and love. There are so many foods that help to give a boost of Oxytocin creating that feeling of love. Tryptophan rich foods help promote Oxytocin production. Click the link below to download our Dopamine Food Guide.

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How is Oxytocin triggered in the body?

Oxytocin is triggered by cuddling, kissing, touching and being with another this includes our pets too. Skin to skin contact raises our Oxytocin levels particularly within the parent child relationship, which is why they promote this with newborn babies, this technique is called kangarooing.

Any contact children have with their parents, be that physical or emotional boosts levels of Oxytocin. This is why it’s so important for sensitive, responsive care giving, as it has a profound impact on our children’s, physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing.
When we stroke our pets and gaze into their eyes is triggers Oxytocin in both human and animal, in fact in dogs it triggers it 5 times greater oxytocin production than in humans, which is one of the reasons they are so happy to see us.
When Oxytocin is triggered the hormone is released by the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that manages the nervous system and controls our body temperature, thirst, hunger, sleep and our emotions, therefore, sustaining our Oxytocin levels has such a positive impact on our body.