Alternative MethodsConventional Methods
Subscribe to our newsletter
The latest Core Spirit news, articles, and products, sent straight to your inbox.

The Spirituality Hormone
Mar 29, 2018

Vivian Adkins
Core Spirit member since Dec 24, 2020
Reading time 2 min.

The hormone oxytocin is perhaps best known for its role in feelings of love and social bonding. But a new study suggests it’s involved in feelings of spirituality as well.

The study involved 83 men ages 35 to 64 who received either a dose of oxytocin or a placebo, both of which were administered through a nasal spray. Afterward, they answered questions about their feelings of spirituality, which, in this case refers to a sense of connection to a higher power or the world (or both) that gives meaning to people’s lives. The study was “double blind,” meaning that neither the men nor the researchers knew which participants received the hormone, and which received the placebo.

Men who received oxytocin were more likely to say that spirituality was important in their lives at the time of the study and also one week later, compared with those who received the placebo. This finding held even after the researchers took into account participants’ emotions at the start of the study, and whether they belonged to an organized religion.

Participants who received oxytocin were also more likely to agree with statements such as “I feel that on a higher level all of us share a common bond,” “All life is interconnected” and “I believe that there is a larger meaning to life.”

The findings shed light on the biological factors involved in feelings of spirituality. “Oxytocin appears to be part of the way our bodies support spiritual beliefs,” study co-author Patty Van Cappellen, a social psychologist at Duke University, said in a statement.

Oxytocin is sometimes called the “love hormone” because it’s released when people cuddle, and is thought to be involved in mother-child bonding.

But the researchers of the new study say they don’t want oxytocin to be dubbed “the spiritual hormone” as a result of the findings. That’s because spiritual beliefs are complex, and may involve many biological processes. “Spirituality is complex and affected by many factors,” Van Cappellen said.

The study also found that, compared to those who received the placebo, participants who received oxytocin reported more positive emotions during a guided meditation session that occurred shortly after they received the nasal spray.

The researchers also analyzed participants’ DNA for the CD38 gene, which regulates the release of oxytocin from brain cells. They found that oxytocin more strongly increased feelings of spirituality in people with a certain variant of this gene.

Because the study involved only male participants, the findings apply only to men, the researchers said. Oxytocin appears to have different effects in men and woman, and so the effects of the hormone on spirituality in women still need to be studied, they said.

The study was first published online June 17 in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience.

“Spirituality is complex and affected by many factors,” Van Cappellen continued. “However, oxytocin does seem to affect how we perceive the world and what we believe.”

Leave your comments / questions for this practitioner

To write a comment please
Category filter
Concern filter
Type filter

All categories

This category is currently empty though we are working on it. Please review services from the similar categories below.
Go to all Services

Related Articles

View All
7 min.
Feb 26 2021
The Neurology of Self-Awareness

What is the self? How does the activity of neurons give rise to the sense of being a conscious human being? Even this most ancient of philosophical problems, I believe, will yield to the methods of empirical science. It now seems increasingly likely that …

Demi Powell
3 min.
Mar 29 2018
Scientists Think This is Where Your Consciousness Lives

Harvard researchers believe they’ve discovered the physical seat of human awareness.

Scientists have struggled for millennia to understand human consciousness — the awareness of one’s existence. Despite advances in neuroscience, we still don’t really kno…

Glenda Jacobs
3 min.
May 2 2018
From lullabies to live concerts: How music and rhythm shape our social behaviour

A universal sign of motherhood is the lullaby. The world over, mothers sing to their babies, whether Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, their favouritetunefrom the radio, or evenrandom notes. This universality creates the simple lullaby a fantastic window tothe…

Sylvester Dean
2 min.
Jan 29 2021
Your lost memories can be recovered

Everyday living may be such a challenge for those with short-term memory loss. But researchers have now demonstrated that memories are rarely absolutely lost—instead they’re just moved to the subconscious.

A functioning working memory — a part of short-t…

Demi Powell
Registered individuals enjoy all the possibilities of Core Spirit.