A few weeks ago I wrote about the role of toxic relationships on inflammation and illness in general.
Why talk about inflammation rather than histamine? Histamine’s role in the body is to begin healing (and others) by causing inflammation in the body. When you have too much histamine in the body, there’s a ton of nasty inflammation wreaking havoc all over! So my number one priority post-reaction is to get that inflammation genie back in the bottle.
Never one to dwell on the negative of anything (not for long anyways!), it’s now time for the flip side:
You may have heard of oxytocin’s role in birth, lactation, bonding with child and partner, and of course, a hearty orgasm, but it was certainly news to me that it’s also a potent anti-inflammatory.
Was it though? Not really.
My instinct, when suffering a horrific reaction, had always been to hold my beloved close. I’m quite sure I’m not alone there…many is a time I rang him, in a tizzy, my guts threatening to jump through my stomach cavity, my migraine sure to blind, begging him to race home to comfort me. Just lying together, hearts beating as one, would often be enough to calm down whatever was going on.
Whatever it was that settled me, was strong enough to help bring me back from the edge of anaphylaxis, when I had resigned myself to death in Kenya last year. My meditation practice has now evolved to a daily hardcore zen mindfulness meditation routine that helps keep pretty much all my symptoms at bay – how? Meditation is an antihistamine and anti-inflammatory so strong that it creates changes on a genetic level.
So it certainly wasn’t a shock to find that in addition to all that, mindfulness meditation raises oxytocin!
“Oxytocin levels can influence the digestive system as much as they influence the brain. Oxytocin has been proven to calm gastrointestinal inflammation, greatly reducing the risk of food sensitivities, autoimmune disorders, and systemic infections.”
“In a 2010 study, Gershon found that oxytocin cools down gastrointestinal inflammation. Intestinal inflammation can not only cause abdominal discomfort, but it can also contribute to more serious disorders that involve the immune system, such as:
- Food sensitivities
- Autoimmune disorders
- Systemic infections like Candidiasis”
Read the full Bodyecology article in which they go into a lot more detail about the gut as our second brain (serotonin and oxytocin are produced there).
We’ve now established that we probably want a lot more oxytocin in our lives, but how to get it? It’s simply not practical to stick your lover in your pocket to keep them handy for when you need them, is it now?
I found a great article in Psychology Today on how to raise oxytocin levels naturally – among the tips: share a meal, give a gift, tell people you love them, pet a dog (yours) and of course, practice mindfulness (as in meditation).
A word of caution, oxytocin is also what causes uterine contractions in childbirth (to get things rolling) and is also what seems to cause the mast cell degranulation needed to get breast milk pumping. Maybe it’s because I need neither of those things to kick off, alls I feel when given a great big hug, is a rush of relaxation and thankfulness for this wave of wellbeing, safety and knowledge that all is well in the world.
I suggest that a hug a day keeps the doctor far, far, far away.
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Please don’t forget antihistamine, pain killing foods can still hurt us, so please always check with your doctor before adding new foods to your diet.