A novel role of oxytocin: Oxytocin-induced well-being in humans

Etsuro Ito*, Rei Shima, Tohru Yoshioka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


We review the involvement of a small molecule, oxytocin, in various effects of physical stimulation of somato-sensory organs, mindfulness meditation, emotion and fragrance on humans, and then propose a hypothesis that complex human states and behaviors, such as well-being, social bonding, and emotional behavior, are explained by oxytocin. We previously reported that oxy-tocin can induce pain relief and described the possibility how oxytocin in the dorsal horn and/or the dorsal root ganglion relieves joint and muscle pain. In the present article, we expand our research target from the physical analgesic effects of oxytocin to its psychologic effects to upregulate well-being and downregulate stress and anxiety. For this purpose, we propose a “hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis-oxytocin model” to explain why mindfulness meditation, placebo, and fragrance can reduce stress and anxiety, resulting in contentment. This new proposed model of HPA axis-oxytocin in the brain also provides a target to address other questions regard-ing emotional behaviors, learning and memory, and excess food intake leading to obesity, aimed at promoting a healthy life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
JournalBiophysics and physicobiology
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
  • oxytocin
  • pain
  • placebo
  • stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)


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