Synthetic oxytocin is sold as proprietary medication under the trade names Pitocin and Syntocinon, and as generic oxytocin. Oxytocin is destroyed in the gastrointestinal tract, so must be administered by injection or as nasal spray. It has a half-life of typically about three minutes in the blood, and given intravenously does not enter the brain in significant quantities – it is excluded from the brain by the blood–brain barrier. Evidence in rhesus macaques indicates oxytocin by nasal spray does enter the brain. Oxytocin nasal sprays have been used to stimulate breastfeeding, but the efficacy of this approach is doubtful.
Injected oxytocin analogues are used for labor induction and to support labor in case of difficult parturition. It has largely replaced ergometrine as the principal agent to increase uterine tone in acute postpartum hemorrhage. Oxytocin is also used in veterinary medicine to facilitate birth and to stimulate milk release. The tocolytic agent atosiban (Tractocile) acts as an antagonist of oxytocin receptors; this drug is registered in many countries to suppress premature labor between 24 and 33 weeks of gestation. It has fewer side effects than drugs previously used for this purpose (ritodrine, salbutamol, and terbutaline).
The trust-inducing property of oxytocin might help those who suffer from social anxieties and mood disorders, but with the potential for abuse with confidence tricks and military applications.
Read more about this topic: Oxytocin
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