In recent years there have been exciting scientific discoveries about a hormone whose amazing role in the human body has long been neglected. Oxytocin is the powerful hormone involved in bonding, sex, and childbirth, as well as in relaxation and feelings of calm. It is the mirror image of the stress hormone adrenaline, which triggers the ‘fight or flight’ systems in the body. Much has been written about the latter, but the many-sided importance of oxytocin is at this point known only to those working in obstetrics and physiology and to some psychiatrists.
The Oxytocin Factor is the first book to reveal the importance of the whole oxytocin system for a general audience. Both the new research findings and the potentially beneficial applications of this hormone in reducing anxiety states, stress, addictions, and problems of childbirth are fascinating and of great significance in all our lives.
Posted by Alyson on 6th Oct 2012
A really interesting book, full of fascinating information about the wonderful hormone Oxytocin. Already aware of the implication of this hormone in breastfeeding and labour it was great to develop an understanding of the wider role ths hormone has in everyday life. One thing that was highlighted to me in reading the book was the importance of touch to maintain the calm/connection reaction. As a mental health nurse I can see the implications as many of our client group lead very isolated lives with little opportunity for positive touch.
Although scientific this book has been written in such a way as to make it very accessible to the lay audience with a number of key diagrams and boxes outlining key pices of information to aid understanding.
One of things I struggling with a little on a personal level was the extent of references to animal experientation which seem to factor throughout the book. However I guess that the sort of information gathered in this book would be difficult to obtain via any other means. Overall a very good book and recommended - especially if the animal experimentation does not trouble you.
Posted by Claire Rocuzzi on 21st May 2012
In a world where birth has become medicalised, it is refreshing to read a book that covers the importance of oxytocin, not only in birth but in life. Not many people are aware of the benefits and importance of this wonderful hormone and its fantastic to have a book that provides such amazing information.
I have read this twice over and am into my third time as there is so much to absorb. I love the way in that the benefits of high oxytocin levels are explained and presented as well as the explanation as to how we can increase this wonder hormone.
A MUST read for any birth professional and even lay person.
Posted by Jil Manning on 6th Apr 2012
‘The Oxytocin Factor’ reveals to the lay as well as professional audience a secret so prevailing that it has remained unseen until now; and this revelation points the way towards the wonderful possibility of increasing our chances of living in a state of health and well-being. The basics of the body‘s ‘fight or flight’ hormonal response to stress have been appreciated for a long time thanks to the publication of extensive research, but it was assumed that the opposite of being in ’fight or flight’ mode was simply to not be in that mode. This absorbing and enjoyable book reveals the opposite end of the see-saw, and identifies and describes for us the physiological state of ’calm and connection’; the healthy antidote to our fast-paced and often lonely and disconnected modern lives. Professor Kerstin Uvnas Moberg, using occasional diagrams and summary tables at the end of some of the more information-stuffed chapters, brings to life these opposing physiological systems. She describes the hitherto unconsidered and unknown areas of effect and systems of working of the hormone and neurotransmitter, oxytocin. She reveals its importance not just as a substance concerned with labour and breastfeeding, but as a vital part of those elusive states of healing, closeness, relationship with food, openness to relationship, trust, calm and contentment in both men and women. Those concerned with childbirth and mothering will grasp the relevance of having an up-to-date understanding of the ‘shy hormone’, but proven and speculative areas, for example, alternative therapies, where oxytocin possibly plays the starring role, are clearly illuminated, so this is a valuable and captivating read for many people. She considers the basis for the values and standards by which we live today, and the opposing and very different way to which we are also biologically adapted and intrinsically structured. Kerstin Uvnas Moberg explains the relevant physiology and the results of her research findings, and those of others, with the warmth of a mother (her own experience of motherhood aroused her curiosity in oxytocin) and the clarity and far-sightedness of the respected Professor that she is.
Posted by Suzanne Gadilhe on 6th Apr 2012
The Oxytocin Factor answered questions that I hadn't realised I needed to ask. Written with simplicity and warmth, it explores a previously neglected area - one that has far reaching implications to the lives of everyone, young and old. Whether you are a nursing mother experiencing that rush of love for your child; whether you are someone who values the peace and calm of yogic meditation; or if you are someone who craves an escape from daily chaos, this book explains why these feelings happen, and why they are so important.
Posted by J Tonkin on 6th Apr 2012
A very informative book that is extremely well written. It is easy to understand and therefore easy to take the information in. The book is written in short sections which include diagrams to help explain items further. It has a fantastic index at the end of the book which makes this an excellent reference book also. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it really amazed me how much this little known-about hormone does!
Posted by Emma Derry on 6th Apr 2012
Being a Breastfeeding Counsellor student, I was very much looking forward to reading this book as the hormone has fascinated me with its role in childbirth and breastfeeding. But I was amazed to find out so much more and the importance of the hormone in every day life. It is a scientific subject but the book is simply written and the chapters are easy to digest. A thoroughly enjoyable read with lots of 'ahhh, I see' moments!
Posted by Karen Hall on 6th Apr 2012
On the whole, this is an interesting book exploring the magic of the hormone oxytocin, its widely varied effects, and the gaps in our knowledge about it. The author describes the ‘calm and connection’ system, and contrasts this with the ‘fight or flight’ system, which has already been widely researched. She posits that modern life gives little opportunity for human beings to enjoy the various conditions of rest, relaxation, and pleasant interactions, which cause a natural increase in levels of oxytocin. The book is divided into parts, and begins with an explanation of the physiological processes involved in the calm and connection system. All this makes a lot of sense, although much of it is based on research with rats. The section on the effects of oxytocin is the most interesting part of the book. It shows that oxytocin increases sociability, curiosity and nurturing behaviour, and decreases anxiety and fear. It enhances recognition and calm, and alleviates pain. It improves the ability to learn; and, in different circumstances, either raises or lowers blood pressure. It moderates body temperature and enables a mother to moderate her baby’s body temperature. It regulates appetite and makes digestion more effective. It aids growth and healing, and the flow of breastmilk, and the contractions to birth our babies. All of these different effects have the result of enabling animals to grow and to reproduce. The chapter on breastfeeding is fascinating. However I noticed here and elsewhere some remarks that I know are not supported by evidence, including that mothers who have had a c/section have more difficulties in breastfeeding, the assumption that colic is a stomach disorder, and the assertion that breastfeeding women must avoid alcohol. This leads me to wonder how much of the rest of the content of the book is actually based on real evidence of human experience and behaviour. Certainly the final section of the book is almost entirely based on speculation about the gaps in our knowledge, and uncritically discusses the role of oxytocin in acupunture and other complementary medicine. I found much that was useful in this book, particularly on the subject of bonding, and specifically in relation to fathers, which is very relevant for me in my work. However I found the speculation in the final chapters vague and disconnected. I was surprised, given the original assertion that modern life is not conducive to natural oxytocin release, to read that the author is looking forward to oxytocin being available as an drug that can be administered for various conditions. I had expected the book to conclude that human beings need to use our knowledge of natural oxytocin to engage in more behaviour, or create more circumstances, where oxytocin is naturally maximised; not just to pop a pill to achieve all those beneficial effects.
Posted by Claire Wright on 6th Apr 2012
This is a well written book. It is very informative without being too wordy. It is accessible to people of all levels of knowledge on hormones and the nervous system, the author strips it back to basics and uses simplified diagrams effectively. I found The Oxytocin Factor easy to read, it was not boring as some other scientific books can be and I feel that I have learned a lot about the effects of oxytocin from it. I enjoyed the comparisons to the ‘fight or flight’ response, brining in this which is much better known could bring a sense of familiarity to the book for those who are unsure if they could follow it. I think this book would be a good read for anybody wanting more information on the subject, as a breast feeding mother I knew of the effects associated with nursing but had no idea just how much more there was to it.