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9 Articles in Volume 17, Issue #9
Can Physiological Profiles Affect Pain Treatment?
Editorial: Moving Forward from Trump's Opioid Declaration
How Might Pain Practitioners Best Offer Patients Relief Without Pharmacology?
Letters to the Editor: An opportunity to learn what is on the minds of your colleagues and patients
Lumbar Lordosis and Back Pain
Oxytocin, an Opioid Alternative, Ready for Regular Clinical Use to Manage Chronic Pain
Pain, Sleep & Suicide: The Core Role of Interventional Care
Spiritual Factors Impacting a Patient’s Ability to Cope with Uncertainty (Part 3)
The Inter-Connection between Smoking and Opioid Misuse

Oxytocin, an Opioid Alternative, Ready for Regular Clinical Use to Manage Chronic Pain

Editor's Memo November 2017: Dr. Tennant opens an overdue discussion on the history and future of pain medication alternatives.
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There are few concerning adverse events associated with exogenous oxytocin, and any side effects are mostly subjective and transient, with reports consisting of dizziness, nausea, and dysphoria.26 Also, no known drug interactions have been observed or reported by patients in my clinic.4,5 We have administered oxytocin to patients who also were taking ketamine, low dose naltrexone, benzodiazepines, neuropathic agents, and opioids, with no observed or reported adverse reactions.

In fact, the apparent and relative non-interaction of oxytocin with common pain-relieving medications supports its favorable safety profile. We have prescribed it both as a regular pain lowering, maintenance agent and for pain flares in lieu of an opioid. My patients with chronic pain conditions have received instructions to take oxytocin two to three times a day.5,20 The potency of oxytocin is the equivalent of about 30 mg of oxycodone or morphine.

Not a Magic Bullet, But a Great Option

It is important to acknowledge that oxytocin, as is the case with any pain reliever, will not produce pain relief in every patient. The pain-relieving ability of this hormone will likely vary from patient to patient, and its effectiveness undoubtedly will be related to intrinsic blood levels, sex, and pain severity, among others factors known and unknown.

In summary, oxytocin is a hormone with a strong, pain-reducing potential that represents a relatively safe alternative to opioids for some patients. Oxytocin appears to offer pain practitioners a potent, intrinsic analgesic that has a complex and formidable production, release, and receptor system that clearly supports its pain-relieving properties.

Admittedly, there is an urgent need to offer patients with chronic, intractable, severe pain conditions an array of alternatives so they are able to medically manage their pain and effectively maintain their function. At the same time, we are challenged to lessening any opportunity for misuse or abuse of opioids, allowing that opioids may be a necessary pain reliever of last resort. As such, it is timely to herald the possible introduction of oxytocin, as an opioid alternative, for new patients who will present with a chronic pain condition so they are not compelled to turn to a potent opioid as the only answer to their unrelenting pain.

In the months ahead, I will highlight a variety of similarly useful medicinal alternatives to opioids so that every physician will be fully informed and prepared to offer a full menu of options to the growing number of patients who present with conditions or diseases that induce intractable, chronic, or severe pain.

Last updated on: November 9, 2017
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Editorial: Moving Forward from Trump's Opioid Declaration
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