Kissing is mankind’s way of showing love, compassion, kindness and sexual attraction, mainly being acted out between people in love, family members or close friends. The act of kissing itself involves the stimulation of over 10,000 nerve endings, starting from those located in the kissers’ lips and quickly spreading to those located in the brain, resulting in the production of numerous chemicals.
Kissing is an act that has been around for thousands of years, and it is not a behavior specific to humans alone, as mammals, winged animals and snails have all been witnessed displaying similar behaviors. Kissing definitely carries with it many benefits, and is probably why mother nature bestowed its gift upon us humans. Let’s take a look at some of the many reasons why people kiss:
Kissing is a way for 2 people to show their love for one another, and can also be between relatives or close friends. When we kiss, the body produces endorphins, or happiness hormones leaving both parties in a loving relationship feeling warm, fuzzy, happy and carefree. Additionally, kissing can reduce the body’s cortisol levels, making it a miraculous remedy for stress.
One other hormone which cannot go unmentioned is dopamine as this type of hormone is associated with the brain’s reward system. Dopamine is produced when we encounter something we like, such as a great meal, so when we kiss someone we like, dopamine is responsible for us feeling happy, content and excited. Moreover, research has found that dopamine levels rise incrementally until we reach a sexual climax, before gradually ebbing away again to be replaced by prolactin, in order to extinguish our sensual fire. (Prolactin is more prevalent in females due to its role in milk production, and it has been found that when breastfeeding, a women’s sexual desire is severely limited. In males, the hormone works alongside other sex hormones to aid sperm production.)
It has been found that when couples French kiss, gently entwining their tongues with one another, there is an increase in the production of oxytocin, which is a hormone associated with building bonds with someone special to us. This hormone is also commonly of use to the body in other ways, such as easing the breastfeeding process and helping mothers give birth more easily.
Kissing mainly involves the use of the orbicularis oris muscle group surrounding the mouth, along with up to 33 other muscle groups utilized when kissing. Kissing also triggers at least 5 pairs of nerves, including the olfactory nerve, used when smelling; the trigeminal nerve, triggered by touches to the mouth, tongue, cheeks, chin and jaw; the facial nerve, used to control facial muscles, such as the lips; the glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves, responsible for voice control; and the hypoglossal nerve, which controls the tongue. With so much involved, it has been found that French kissing for one minute can burn up to 26 calories. (To ensure that both parties are ready to kiss for any length of time, be sure to take care of your oral health.)
While it is certainly true that kissing stimulates the nerve endings and helps to produce the assorted happiness hormones previously mentioned, one of the most talked about results of kissing is the transmission of testosterone from men to women, or from men to other men. This is because testosterone is a type of hormone found in males in large amounts as it is the main hormone involved with growth, cell repair and increased libido, meaning it is the most common hormone found in male blood or saliva. French kissing is therefore a great way to arouse both parties, and for best results in this regard, the kissing should be carried out alongside hugging and other forms of bodily contact.
Although kissing has numerous benefits, if one party is not in good health, kissing could place them at risk of contracting various health disorders, such as the common cold, hepatitis B, herpes and warts. Therefore, avoid kissing if you are suffering from any of these conditions in order to maintain the health and safety of the ones you love.
M.D.,Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University. Faculty of Medicine Chulalongkorn University , 2002