We are actively seeking scientists from a variety of disciplines to help us quantify our theories with empirical evidence. If you are interested in studying the Karuna Sessions method to document the efficacy of immersive touch for physical, mental and emotional wellness, we'd love to talk further. You can contact us here.
We here at Karuna Sessions labs have based our protocol on a wide range of biological and social science. Our theories are broad and diverse, and based on solid science (though the jury is still out about exactly how and why oxytocin works the way it does). Below you will find some of the studies that have gone into creating our unique brand of wellness.
Oxytocin is a hormone that occurs in all mammals. It is produced in the hypothalamus, which then sends it to the pituitary gland for storage. From there, it is released into the bloodstream. It is most frequently associated with childbirth and mother/infant bonding. (Oxytocin is Greek for "swift birth.") Not only does it help with cervical dilation and uterine contractions during the birth process, its presence also helps nursing mothers lactate.
Of greatest interest to us is the effect of oxytocin on the physical body. There are many physiological benefits humans can gain by having more oxytocin coursing through their bodies, especially as we age. Benefits include:
- Healthy muscle maintenance and repair, especially in older adults.
- Protecting the heart from stress and counteracting the effects of cortisol.
- Modulating wound healing by reducing inflammation.
- Preventing a development of tolerance to opiates and reduce withdrawal symptoms.
- Counteracting the effects of alcohol in rats' brains.
- Aiding in digestion.
- Associated with REM sleep.
- Boosting the immune system.
Much research has been done with regard to the psychological effects of the hormone. It is often called the Trust Molecule or the Feel-Good Hormone. It has been researched as a potential treatment for autism, addiction and overeating. Psychological benefits include:
- Reducing anxiety by calming the amygdala.
- Increasing generosity toward others.
- Creating an in-group bias (which could be a good thing or a bad thing).
- Potential treatment for depression.
- Promoting fidelity in men.
- Stimulating bonding between fathers and their infants.
Not all of the findings on oxytocin are positive. It's...complicated and can create negative effects under certain circumstances. Among other things, it can:
- Boost dishonesty.
- Hinder trust and cooperation in those with borderline personality disorder.
- Increase envy and schadenfreude.
- Has not been found to be measurably different in children with autism.
- Ongoing use of intranasal oxytocin can decrease social abilities in children with autism.
- Enhance negative social cues.
- Evidence of oxytocin as moral molecule founded on weak science.
Much of the oxytocin research cited was conducted with an intranasal oxytocin spray. Oxytocin is naturally generated in the human body via consensual touch. There are many research studies extolling the psychological, emotional and physical benefits of touch for people of all ages:
- Skin contact helps premature babies to thrive in neurological and cognitive development.
- Massage promotes weight gain in premature infants.
- Touch promotes socioemotional and physiological well-being.
- Touch enhances cooperation and performance.
- Men suffer from lack of platonic touch.
- American adolescents touch each other less, are more aggressive toward peers.
It's no secret that Americans are feeling more disconnected and isolated, even as social media connects us with people virtually. Turns out that loneliness has serious consequences for our health. Makes sense, since we are social animals by nature. A few reasons to foster solid relationships include:
- Loneliness more dangerous for older adults than obesity.
- Looking into your dog's eyes can increase oxytocin.
- Social isolation produces significant changes in brain structures and processes.
- Loneliness exacerbates many physical ailments, including Alzheimer's, diabetes and heart disease.
- More than 1 in 3 adults over 45 say they are chronically lonely.
- How our housing choices make adult friendships more difficult
Most of us deal with high amounts of stress in our daily lives. The cumulative effects on our brain and body can be drastic.
The nurturing and mothering we receive as infants has huge implications for neurological development and success in life as adults.
- Infant Rheusus monkeys attach to cloth monkeys instead of wire monkeys that give food
- A strong bond between mother and infant leads to a well-developed hippocampus and better relationships
- Emotional neglect in childhood leads to emotional issues in adulthood.