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Oxytocin Fail Part #1

Posted on 2012.10.03 at 00:35
As my research area is in social behaviour, I've done a bit of work with oxytocin, the hormone made famous by its role in forming of socially monogamous pairs in voles. Unfortunately this had led people to think it will be some sort of love potion. It has also been shown to increase trust in a neuroeconomic game which goes like this: participant 1 is given $10. Participant 1 can send some money to paricipant 2 where it is tripled. Participant 2 has the option of sending some money back to participant 1 as thanks. I believe the measure of trust was the amount of money participant 1 sent, and I can't remember what the amount participant 2 was called. From this, it was concluded that oxytocin is involved in trust behaviours.

And companies have jumped on board selling synthetic versions. The worst guys are at Verolabs, who are selling Liquid Trust. More like Liquid Con. That, or they don't have basic knowledge on how peptides work. Because here is there instructions:

1. Apply Liquid Trust to yourself in the morning while getting dressed, before important meetings during the day or in the evening before going out to socialize.

2. Everyone you encounter will immediately and unconsciously detect the pure human Oxytocin in Liquid Trust that you are wearing.

3. Without realizing why, the people around you have a strong feeling of trust. They can’t explain it, but you know that Liquid Trust is doing its magic!

Yes, this is as exactly as lifted from their site. Just to make it clear, you spray it on yourself like perfume, and it will travel to the noses of the people you meet and alter their behaviour.

Let me explain what's wrong.

A. Route of Administration fail. Oxytocin is administered as a nasal spray because works in double blind experimental trials, and does get into the blood through the blood vessels in the nose (like cocaine). Just because it goes in the nose, it doesn't mean that the drug is volatile!! Like it won't lift off your clothes and travel up the noses of people you meet. This is akin to spraying yourself with cocaine and getting everyone around you high. Even smelling cocaine won't get you high! You have to actually snort a line.

B. Dose fail. I believe the doses used in studies are around 24 international units (IU) in humans (I don't do human stuff, so this is off the top of my head on what I've read). Wikipedia says 1 IU of oxytocin is 2ug (micrograms). I give my mice doses ranging from 1mg/kg-20mg/kg when giving into the peritoneal cavity. The point is that assuming that some of the oxytocin does become airborne and acts as a volatile substance, it won't be 24 IU per person they meet (I don't even know if IU account for body weight). Might as well be homeopathy. A good dose of MDMA in a human is about 1-3mg/kg. About 120mg if you got your pillz in the 80s. 30mg is threshold on average. I have held an open container of 20g (20,000mg to keep the units same) of MDMA and by this logic, I should get a buzz just by being near it. Ha! Actually more relevant, I have been injecting rats and mice with it... was I getting an oxytocin hit too?? I bet I was getting more of an oxytocin 'hit' from picking up the cute rats and mice than the bottle of oxytocin.

C. The obvious, no PhD required. So, you spray it on you, and everyone else if affected? Well if you spray it on you, wouldn't you be the first affected?

There is not much further explanation of why it would work. Perhaps there is a substance that does make it airborne. 'The spray has a time release effect to make the effects last for hours after being applied to you' What is the time release effect? 'Time release' is a valid pharmacology term for oral administration with a capsule/pill! It's based on the drug being placed into substances that are slow to be dissolved by the STOMACH. The spray is a liquid on your clothes. How can you time release that? The only thing I can suggest is some sort of nanotechnology thing I have no idea about. It's much more plausible to assume they are bullshitting. Surely if they had the tech to make the oxytocin a time release volatile substance that had immediate effects, surely people would be doing it a bunch of other drugs too.

Now that's just the pharmacokinetics problems. What they claim 'the power of trust' does is another story.

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