Oxytocin: Superstar for bone and joint health?

Weight Loss

Knee arthritis


Those of you who have been following my discussions about the restoration of the microbe lost by most Americans, Lactobacillus reuteri, and its capacity to provoke release of the hormone oxytocin from the hypothalamus already know that doing so is associated with:

  • Reduction in appetite—the so-called “anorexigenic effect.”
  • Increased empathy for other people, reduced anxiety in social settings
  • Increase in muscle mass and strength
  • Deeper sleep with vivid dreams (and, anecdotally, extended REM periods measured via actigraphic devices such as Apple Watch, Oura ring, Fitbit)
  • Smoother, thicker, moister skin with reduction in wrinkles
  • Increased libido
  • Enhanced immune response
  • Reduced loss of bone density

That last item, the reduced loss of bone density demonstrated in both animal experimental models as well as a human clinical trial (with the ATCC PTA 6475 strain), tells us that interesting things happen in bone under the influence of increased oxytocin. But it has not been clear whether the bone benefits of L. reuteri and oxytocin extend to the cartilage and bone of joints—that is, until a French research group demonstrated that oxytocin stimulates chondrocytes, the cells that build cartilage. In this study, several proteins involved in cartilage structure were stimulated by oxytocin, i.e., oxytocin stimulated chondrogenesis. They also noted that, in humans, people with lower oxytocin levels also had more arthritis, those with higher oxytocin levels had less arthritis. Admittedly, these observations are preliminary and it would be premature to interpret these findings to mean that boosting oxytocin reverses the loss of cartilage that characterizes osteoarthritis. But if this represents a genuine effect of oxytocin, how effective could it be? Could this phenomenon restore cartilage even when you have bone-on-bone arthritis with little cartilage remaining (as shown in the x-ray above)? We shall see as the evidence—and personal experiences consuming the L. reuteri yogurt—unfold.

Combine this potential effect with the reduction in osteoarthritis that develops with elimination of wheat and grains and we may have a potent way to prevent, perhaps partially reverse, osteoarthritis. Recall that L. reuteri is just one among many microbes lost by most people. If these are the sorts of benefits that develop with the restoration of just one lost microbe, think what we can achieve as we learn about other microbial species that many of us have lost that can be restored.

If you experience a reduction in arthritic joint pain by consuming L. reuteri yogurt, I’d like to hear about it. Should this prove true, don’t expect it to develop over days, but over months to years of consistent restoration of L. reuteri and oxytocin.

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