Olly Olly Oxytocin Spray

Oxytocin spray is another "treatment" in an already dizzying array of potential alt med treatments for autism (and for making you a more successful salesman). While Autism Diva was writing about it back in 2006, it hadn't really disseminated the autism biomed forums and boards. That appears to be changing. There are various suppliers of oxytocin spray, and some homeopathic versions (so, as long as it's truly homeopathic, we can all relax since a nice water shot up the nose ain't gonna hurt you; it might sting if it has no saline, though).

The side effects of oxytocin can be severe, noted Autism Diva (no need to reinvent the wheel):
"For example, when a patient with obsessive-compulsive disorder used it for 4 weeks, the patient showed clear improvement of that disorder. However, the patient also developed severe memory disturbances (oxytocin apparently helps mothers forget the pain of childbirth), psychotic symptoms, and marked changes in blood sodium levels, which may have masked the obsessive-compulsive symptoms."

James Ottar Grundvig wrote about oxytocin as an autism treatment recently, interviewing Dr. Hollander for the piece. According to Dr. Hollander, oxytocin:

"It stimulates social memories, reinforces reward. My research into Oxytocin came from translational research: the study of Oxytocin in animals and how it might be applied or translated to humans."

In 2003, Hollander et al. published a study in Neuropsychopharmacology which looked at autistic individuals and whether IV oxytocin would reduce repetitive behaviors. Their sample size was 21 individuals. According to Hollander et al., each "subject served as their own control" (p. 195). On the day of the 4 hour infusion, no change in repetitive behaviors was found in either the placebo or the oxytocin groups, although over time, the oxytocin group saw a statistically significant reduction in the behaviors they examined. These behaviors were defined as "need to know, repeating, ordering, need to tell/ask, self-injury, and touching" ( p. 195). The authors note that there was no significant differences at p<0.05, but there were at p<0.10.

With this small a sample size and how far out they had to go to find significant differences, it'd be a real stretch for me to be willing to hook one of my children up to a four hour infusion of oxytocin. Fortunately, that doesn't appear to be what the biomed parents are doing, though. 

At least some of them are pissing their money away on Oxytocin Accelerator, the homeopathic version which will just waste 20 dollars of their hard-earned money a month.  No harm no foul there.

What about additional research? Is there a potential role of oxytocin in emotion recognition? Baron-Cohen and fellow researchers are putting together a study to examine whether nasal oxytocin spray will help with emotion recognition:

"As far as is known there are no side-effects of the oxytocin inhalation method, which has been used safely by our collaborators in Zürich in typical individuals. We are interested to confirm if oxytocin affects social skills (especially empathy) positively and we also wish to test if oxytocin has any negative impact on areas of strength in autism (such as attention to detail). This study is still being considered for ethical approval as a nasal spray oxytocin method is not licenced for use in the UK. As with all treatments or interventions for autism, it is important that there are careful evaluations of their benefits and of any unwanted side-effects so that parents and clinicians can make informed choices about their use. Such evidence is collated on a central website at www.researchautism.net."

So, we don't know if this works, we don't know yet if it's safe. Why would you use your child as an experiment?


Stephanie Lynn Keil said...

On my most recent post Here I have a quote from my aunt about her profoundly autistic son.

You will not be pleased...

Mom26children said...

So, we don't know if this works, we don't know yet if it's safe. Why would you use your child as an experiment?

Is that a trick question ??

kathleen said...

ummmm...another name for oxytocin is pitocin. Which I was given to induce labor-which it does in a very fast and horrifying way. How weird..

KWombles said...

Ah, Steph. ((())) Hugs to you, your aunt and nephew. I wouldn't argue with her on it; you'll only entrench her. Be supportive of them both.


Always, I am a deranged word twister (oh and according to some, I hear, I think I am a shit stirrer--although I have it on some authority that I am instead a troll slayer).

Kathleen; I had pitocin on the first two (I don't remember what was given on the youngest garden girlie to induce). There's some indication that a geneti mutation relating to oxytocin is actually implicated in autism (study sample sizes were really really small, though, and off the topic of giving the spray).

Amy C. said...

That's right, lets drug them so they don't stim.

I can see the conversation now...

"Hey, he's unconscious".
"Yes, but he's not stimming".
"Look, we've CURED him of Autism".

Incidentally, children appear less autistic when the sleep too.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the ignorance and judgement of some of these comments. As a nurse with a son who has high-functioning autism, the studies and research I've read about inhaled syntocin, especially with early intervention in younger children, is extremely promising. This is not about destigmatizing the preception of autism, this is about appropriately using a medication that, according to reserachers, may help cure autism in the future. YES, I would put my child in a safe and appropriately designed study of this nature. This is how research is collected. How did any of you think is was collected? Magic?
And if any of you bothered to read the study, you would see that the use of this drug in autistic children is NOT the same as for a pregnant woman. They are developing an inhalation method, not an IV method to decrease systemic effects.
FYI to all of you--there are "off label" uses of many drugs. Off label because they effect a treatment other than that for which the FDA has approved their use. These off label uses are generally very safe and effective.
Nor is this research about "drugging your child so they don't stim." This research is about drugging your child so that they are able to interact with you, their siblings and the world at large, and not miss out on sensory experiences that are a positive contributor to their behavioral and social repertoire.
This drug lasts only about 2 weeks, but can help imprint social memories on children, otherwise known as improving social ability and interaction with other.

Gee, what jerks we parents and researchers are to want to allow autistic children social experiences "outside themselves." How irresposible for researchers to want to improve the major deficit of social interaction in our children.

My suggestion to all of you snap decision making blogposters is to read the studies then post your replies. You all sound so unbelievably ignorant to me. But if this research had positive implications, and was eventually considered a realistic treatment, I'm sure you would all be getting prescritions ASAP for your little darlings.

I cam across this site by accident, and am appalled at the close-mindedness of all of you who have left a comment. I do not believe I will waste another second on this site. Some medical advice for you all: OPEN YOUR MINDS TO GOOD SCIENCE.

KWombles said...

Well, it's a shame you won't be coming back, as you'll miss my response to you, then.

Did you pay any attention to the article itself? I did read the research. It isn't about the research; none of us here have a problem with well-designed studies or with parents enrolling their children in studies. You know, because we're science-based here.

What we have a problem with is parents buying unregulated products off the internet and experimenting on their children with these products based on the recommendations of parents off of forums and groups.

I'm sure we're all well aware of the use of off-label prescriptions, and while I personally understand some uses, I'm also aware of DAN! practitioners using things like lupron off-label. There's a limit, and there really should be, to the risks we take with our children.

Oh, and as a nurse, you know better. Something given every two weeks isn't a cure. And while oxytocin may be promising, it needs to be studied FIRST.

But, you're not coming back. I think the close-minded person was you.