Is Oxytocin a Suitable Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa? New Studies Say Maybe!

Oxytocin A team of research scientists have performed new studies which show that oxytocin may be a potential anorexia nervosa treatment. One of the senior authors involved with both of the scientific studies was King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry Professor Janet Treasure, and she had this to say “Patients with anorexia have a range of social difficulties which often start in their early teenage years, before the onset of the illness. These social problems, which can result in isolation, may be important in understanding both the onset and maintenance of anorexia. By using oxytocin as a potential treatment for anorexia, we are focusing on some of these underlying problems we see in patients.” One study showed that the tendency to fixate on body image and high calorie foods was reduced in people with anorexia nervosa who received oxytocin. The professor continued by stating “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.”

The same study participants were used for both studies. The first study was published in Psychoneuroendocrinology while the second study appeared in PLOS ONE. Both show that oxytocin has great promise as an anorexia nervosa treatment. Another lead study author for both was Inje University Professor Youl-Ri Kim, who said “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.”



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