Cuddle hormone: definition & explanations

Kuschelhormon: Definition & Erklärungen

Physical closeness, hugs and affection are essential for our health and can protect us from illness or depressive moods. This is confirmed above all by the cuddle hormone. But what is that exactly? What effects does the hormone have on the body? And what happens if there is a shortage?

In our article on the cuddle hormone, we provide you with all the answers to these questions and explain exactly what this hormone is all about. Have fun while reading!

the essentials in brief

  • The cuddle hormone – also known as oxytocin – is a hormone that is produced in the human brain. This primarily promotes interpersonal relationships, such as the mother-child bond or the relationship with one's partner.
  • This hormone is released primarily through any kind of pleasant skin contact, such as breastfeeding, body heat or other forms of physical contact.
  • The cuddle hormone is still relatively unexplored, which means that there is no way to supplement the hormone in any way. To prevent a lack of the cuddle hormone, regular physical contact with a loved one should be established.

Glossary entry: The term cuddle hormone explained in detail

The term cuddle hormone may sound a bit strange at first, but in fact there is an important hormone behind this designation, which contributes to improving our well-being and health.

By answering the following questions, we want to explain exactly what this term means, what it means and what effects the hormone has on our body.

What is a cuddle hormone?

Oxytocin - also known as the cuddle hormone - is a hormone produced in the human brain. This consists of nine different amino acids and is released into the blood by the pituitary gland and in this way promotes interpersonal relationships, such as the mother-child bond or the relationship with one's partner.

Hug man and woman

Partnerships benefit from oxytocin. The cuddle hormone strengthens the bond with each other. (Source: Priscilla Du Preez /

The development or strengthening of an emotional bond with another person is also the reason why the hormone is repeatedly referred to as a cuddle, feel-good or loyalty hormone. However, studies have now also found that the hormone helps to combat anxiety or also helps with other mental illnesses. (1)

How is the cuddle hormone produced?

The cuddle hormone is a messenger substance that occurs in nerve tissue. These are also referred to as neuropeptides and belong to the group of proteohormones. These are in turn hormones, which have a protein structure and are created by various amino acids.

Oxytocin is thus created in the brain by various amino acids and acts there as a so-called neuromodulator, which changes the activity of certain nerve groups in a targeted manner.

This hormone is released primarily through any kind of pleasant skin contact, such as breastfeeding, body heat or other forms of physical contact. But it is also released by stimulating the activity of neuronal networks in the brain, which play an important role in the regulation of stress, among other things. (2)

How does the cuddle hormone affect the human body?

The cuddle hormone can have several effects on the human body. This is mainly due to the fact that it is not only a hormone, but also a so-called neurotransmitter. Oxytocin is therefore also a messenger substance, which means that the excitation of one nerve cell can be transmitted to another.

We want to explain the exact effects the cuddle hormone can have in the following sub-items:

Interpersonal relationships

Oxytocin primarily affects interpersonal relationships. Already during pregnancy, the cuddle hormone ensures the milk comes in and is also responsible for the onset of labor during the birth of a child.

Furthermore, the cuddle hormone also contributes to a stronger relationship between a mother and her child. For example, mothers who have high oxytocin levels feel the need to see their child more often and also have a stronger protective instinct. At the same time, the increased physical contact by the mother in the child causes an increased release of the cuddle hormone, which also causes the child to long for its mother more. (3.4)

hugging two dolls

The cuddle hormone also helps to improve the relationship with your partner. (Source: Marco Bianchetti /

But the cuddle hormone is not only extremely useful between mother and child. In general, the hormone can contribute to an improvement in interpersonal relationships. (5) In an experimental study, for example, it was found that the release of oxytocin causes couples to feel an increased urge to spend time together. As a result, men find other women less attractive, which in turn could improve their relationship with their partner. (6)

The release of the cuddle hormone also shows improved behavior in people with mental health problems. Studies have found, for example, that anxiety, phobias or anti-social behavior or even autism can be improved by increased oxytocin production. (7.8)

physical health

Another benefit comes from the overall effects of the cuddle hormone on the body. The hormone regulates both blood pressure and cortisol levels. Thus, the cuddle hormone also helps to reduce stress.

The cuddle hormone contributes to better well-being and has positive effects on the human body.

In a way, the cuddle hormone contributes to feeling more relaxed, which in turn also contributes to a better sense of well-being. In addition, studies have also found that the cuddle hormone can also have a positive effect on the dopamine level in the body, which means that increased motivation and energy levels in people can be determined. (9)

But not only the general well-being can be increased by the cuddle hormone, but also the general physical health.

Studies have now found that the increased release of oxytocin reduces food intake, which has been proven particularly in overweight people. (10) Consequential damage to health, which arises in connection with being overweight, can thus be improved by the release of oxytocin.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the cuddle hormone?

By answering the previous question, it was already clear that the cuddle hormone has several health benefits and meanwhile is also responsible for improving social relationships.

Embracing mother and child

The cuddle hormone ensures that the bond between a mother and her child is strengthened. (Source: Xavier Mouton /

The cuddle hormone thus has several positive effects on the human body and thus contributes to a healthy lifestyle. But even though many studies have been able to confirm the positive effects of oxytocin, there have also been studies that have found more adverse effects of the hormone.

Accordingly, some side effects of the hormone could also be determined. Cardiac arrhythmias can occur in every tenth to hundredth patient, for example, as well as increased blood pressure, headaches, nausea and/or vomiting.

Under certain circumstances, however, oxytocin can also induce antisocial behavior. In addition to the thoroughly positive test results, there are also negative findings.

A study from America also showed, for example, that in addition to the feeling of belonging to a group, there can also be increased rivalry with other groups, which in turn is reflected in antisocial behavior. (11)

Studies have also been conducted indicating that the therapeutic use of oxytocin could produce adverse effects in individuals with social behavior disorders, such as schizophrenia. (12) The use of the cuddle hormone within various therapies for social behavior disorders thus remains questionable and needs further research.

What happens if there is a lack of the cuddle hormone?

One speaks of a lack of the cuddle hormone when there is too little oxytocin either relatively or absolutely. To measure a person's oxytocin levels, blood plasma must be measured. Although the evaluation results only reflect a snapshot, a tendency can certainly be determined for several values.

If there is a lack of oxytocin, the bonding-promoting effects of the hormone cannot be released and general well-being is also reduced. However, oxytocin deficiency has the greatest impact on women during childbirth, as the cuddle hormone is essential for uterine muscle tension.

Man holds baby in arms

The cuddle hormone is mainly needed at birth and when breastfeeding a child. (Source: Kelly Sikkema /

A deficiency would therefore mean that the musculature of the uterus does not contract sufficiently, which under certain circumstances can also lead to increased bleeding during and after birth.

Since excessive bleeding proves life-threatening for the woman giving birth, hospital obstetrics usually work with IV fluids, whereby oxytocin is administered intravenously to the mother-to-be.

Can the cuddle hormone be taken in supplement form?

As already mentioned, a lack of the cuddle hormone can result in health damage. However, since it is a relatively unexplored area and studies have come to quite different conclusions, there is currently no way to take the hormone in the form of dietary supplements.

The cuddle hormone is still relatively unexplored.

Several studies are currently looking at the use of oxytocin in nasal sprays to treat mental illness. However, the causal connection has not yet been sufficiently understood, which is why there is currently no sufficiently researched product available on the market. (13)

The cuddle hormone is therefore only given to women giving birth in the hospital before the birth in the form of an infusion, since the hormone supports the musculature of the uterus during the birth of a child and in this way prevents life-threatening bleeding.

Are there alternative ways of absorbing the cuddle hormone?

Even if the cuddle hormone is still relatively unexplored as far as intake via dietary supplements is concerned, it has nevertheless been confirmed that a deficiency in the hormone can have negative effects on the human body and its psyche. The release of the hormone thus contributes to a healthy life and better well-being.

In the table below we show you various ways of ensuring that your body is sufficiently supplied with the cuddle hormone.

alternative Description
Stroke Stroke units can help release the cuddle hormone and strengthen partnership bonds. Gentle touches, such as stroking or massaging the skin, therefore have health-promoting effects on the body.
sex During the most beautiful thing in the world, the cuddle hormone is also released. Especially after the orgasm, there is an increased release of the cuddle hormone in both sexual partners.
Embrace Hugs - regardless of whether they come from a partner, friends or family members - do you good and support the release of the cuddle hormone. In this way, stress hormones such as fear or anger can already be reduced by hugging.
breastfeeding one possibility, which also strengthens the mother-child bond, is breastfeeding your own child. In this way, the release of the hormone has a double benefit.
eye contact Oxytocin can be released just by making eye contact with another loved one. Looking deep into the eyes is not only romantic, but can also release endorphins.
hold hands Physical contact, including holding hands, releases oxytocin. The bond with the partner is strengthened in this way and also leads to a better basis of trust

So the table shows that there are quite a number of ways to release oxytocin in the body. Cuddles and loving gestures not only make hearts beat faster, but are also definitely healthy for our body and our well-being.


In this article we have explained to you what the cuddle hormone is all about and why it is so important for our well-being. We have also explained to you what problems a deficiency can cause and how you can ensure that your body is sufficiently supplied with the cuddle hormone.

From now on, regular hugs and loving gestures should be part of the daily routine to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and to improve your well-being.


  1. Jones C, Barrera I, Brothers S, Ring R, & Wahlestedt C (2017). Oxytocin and social functioning. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 19(2), 193-201.
  2. Zik, JB, & Roberts, DL (2015). The many faces of oxytocin: implications for psychiatry. Psychiatry research, 226(1), 31-37.
  3. Vittner D, McGrath J, Robinson J, Lawhon G, Cusson R, Eisenfeld L, Walsh S, Young E, Cong X. Increase in Oxytocin From Skin-to-Skin Contact Enhances Development of Parent-Infant Relationship. Biol Res Nurs. 2018 Jan;20(1):54-62. doi: 10.1177/1099800417735633. Epub 2017 Oct 11. PMID: 29017336.
  4. Yoshihara C, Numan M, & Kuroda KO (2018). Oxytocin and Parental Behaviors. Current topics in behavioral neurosciences, 35, 119-153.
  5. Bosch, OJ, & Young, LJ (2018). Oxytocin and Social Relationships: From Attachment to Bond Disruption. Current topics in behavioral neurosciences, 35, 97-117.
  6. Cavanaugh J, Mustoe AC, Taylor JH, & French JA (2014). Oxytocin facilitates fidelity in well-established marmoset pairs by reducing sociosexual behavior toward opposite-sex strangers. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 49, 1-10.
  7. Martin-Du Pan RC (2012). Oxytocin: the hormone of love, trust and social bond. Clinical use in autism and social phobia]. Revue medicale suisse, 8(333), 627-630.
  8. Kirsch P (2015). Oxytocin in the socioemotional brain: implications for psychiatric disorders. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, 17(4), 463-476.
  9. LoveTM (2014). Oxytocin, motivation and the role of dopamine. Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior, 119, 49-60.
  10. Iwasa T, Matsuzaki T, Mayila Y, Yanagihara R, Yamamoto Y, Kawakita T, Kuwahara A, & Irahara M (2019). Oxytocin treatment reduced food intake and body fat and ameliorated obesity in ovariectomized female rats. Neuropeptides, 75, 49-57.
  11. De Dreu CK, Greer LL, Handgraaf MJ, Shalvi S, Van Kleef GA, Baas M, Ten Velden FS, Van Dijk E, & Feith SW (2010). The neuropeptide oxytocin regulates parochial altruism in intergroup conflict among humans. Science (New York, NY), 328(5984), 1408-1411.
  12. Bradley, ER, & Woolley, JD (2017). Oxytocin effects in schizophrenia: Reconciling mixed findings and moving forward. Neuroscience and biobehavioural reviews, 80, 36-56.
  13. Yatawara, CJ, Einfeld, SL, Hickie, IB, Davenport, TA, & Guastella, AJ (2016). The effect of oxytocin nasal spray on social interaction deficits observed in young children with autism: a randomized clinical crossover trial. Molecular Psychiatry, 21(9), 1225-1231.
Back to blog
Vorheriger Beitrag

Nächster Beitrag

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.