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The benefits of Oxytocin.

I just learnt that up until about twenty years ago, all stress research was done on men. The female body’s hormones fluctuate so much that it is challenging to measure hormonal responses, so researchers simply didn’t include them in their studies.

Thankfully, a group of pioneering researchers realized the madness of this, and embarked upon ground-breaking research. What they found could have a potentially radical impact, for women, especially women who are engaged in a healing journey of any kind.

Their studies show that the typical ‘fight, flight or freeze’ stress response isn’t the whole story for women. As well as this typical response, the female body also responds to stress with a flush of different hormones, including Oxytocin, which instead creates an attitude of ‘tend and befriend’[1].

In times of stress women don’t just move to run or fight, they reach out to protect and connect.

Oxytocin is a woman’s natural de-stress mechanism. It helps our muscles to relax, reduce blood pressure and reduces cortisol levels. It increases pain thresholds, has anti-anxiety effects, and it promotes healing[2]. Hugging a friend, cooking a meal for someone you love, petting your dog, even giving yourself a 30 second shoulder rub all release oxytocin, and it’s host of healing effects.

As a Woman’s Temple Leader on a long-term recovery journey from chronic health challenges, I am hugely curious about this ‘Goddess hormone’. Could the oxytocin-inducing friendship and bonding within women’s circles have tangible, measurable healing effects for chronic health problems?

Did you know that women make up nearly three quarters of the people who have chronic health conditions?:

~5 million people with Fibromyalgia[3] (80 – 90{9cc7442dd16532634240172f456026bd6b5f15ed2b81a4875b358a4d031e87b4} women)
~1 million with Chronic Fatigue[4] (66 – 80{9cc7442dd16532634240172f456026bd6b5f15ed2b81a4875b358a4d031e87b4} women)
~30 million with IBS[5] (66-75{9cc7442dd16532634240172f456026bd6b5f15ed2b81a4875b358a4d031e87b4} women)

So, Frances and I have decided to run an experiment.

We are going to explore whether gathering women with chronic health challenges together, in supportive, nourishing, connection-filled circle can have lasting healing impact.

In our oxytocin drenched online immersions and retreats, we’ll also share the tools and practices that most supported our healing, including Restorative Yoga, Emotional Freedom Technique, Neuro-Linguistic Programming, guided meditation and relaxation and feminine embodiment practices from the Yogini tradition of the Awakening Women Institute.

Is the ‘Goddess Hormone’ Oxytocin the female body’s natural key to healing? Let’s find out…

Notes:

[1] Shelley Taylor, ‘Tend and Befriend, Page

[2] Ray Sahelian, MD, https://www.raysahelian.com/oxytocin.html

[3] https://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Fibromyalgia/fibromyalgia_ff.asp

[4] https://chronicfatigue.about.com/od/whatischronicfatigue/a/cfsfactsheet.htm

[5] https://www.aboutibs.org/site/what-is-ibs/facts/

~ Sophie

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