'Love hormone' oxytocin could help treat eating disorders, a recent study paper shows.
According to researchers from the UK and Korea, oxytocin modifies anorexic patients' tendencies to obsess about overeating and larger body shape.
In the first of two recent studies, 31 patients with anorexia and 33 people without the condition were placed on either oxytocin or a placebo. The researchers then told them to see the photos that showed food with high calories and different body shapes. The authors then calculated the responses of the participants after looking at the images.
The study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, showed that after taking oxytocin, anorexics did not focus long on the negative photos as earlier where they continuously stared at the images..
In the second study, published in PLOS ONE, researchers found that people with the eating disorders were less likely to focus on facial expressions of disgust or anger after a dose of the hormone.
"Our research shows that oxytocin reduces patients' unconscious tendencies to focus on food, body shape, and negative emotions such as disgust. There is currently a lack of effective pharmacological treatments for anorexia. Our research adds important evidence to the increasing literature on oxytocin treatments for mental illnesses, and hints at the advent of a novel, ground-breaking treatment option for patients with anorexia," lead author of both studies Prof Youl-Ri Kim, from Inje University in Seoul, South Korea, said in a news release.
"This is early stage research with a small number of participants, but it's hugely exciting to see the potential this treatment could have. We need much larger trials, on more diverse populations, before we can start to make a difference to how patients are treated," Professor Janet Treasure from King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry Treasure, said.