NASAL sprays containing the hormone oxytocin, nicknamed the “cuddle chemical” because it helps mothers bond with their babies, have helped people with schizophrenia.
Although the 15 participants used the sprays for three weeks only, most reported measurable improvements in their symptoms in this the first trial to test oxytocin in schizophrenia. “It’s proof of concept that there’s therapeutic potential here,” says David Feifel at the University of California in San Diego, head of the team running the trial.
Each participant received oxytocin or a placebo for three weeks, then the opposite treatment for three weeks with a week break in between.
On the basis of two standard tests for schizophrenia, taken before and after each block of treatment, participants averaged improvements of around 8 per cent when taking the oxytocin compared with the placebo (Biological Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2010.04.039).
Reported by Andy Coghlan
submitted by Anna