What's So Great About Kissing?
A serious, tongue-tangling kiss triggers a whole spectrum of physiological processes that can boost your immunity and generally spruce up that body you work so hard to keep attractive.
Birds, Bees, and More continued...
Kissing is a very investigatory process, Fisher explains.
"By the time you're kissing someone, you're right up next
to them, you are in their personal space," she says. "That in itself
means you have trusted them. You're also learning quite a bit about them -- you
touch them, smell them, taste them, see the expressions on their face, learn
something about their health status, learn a great deal about their
The brain contains "a huge amount of receptors devoted to
picking sensations from the lips," Fisher says. "When people have been
stabbed in the back, they often don't know it. They think someone has pounded
them with their fist, because there aren't many receptor sites for nerve
Why? All these sensors aid our survival. They direct a baby
toward milk; they helped our ancestors -- for millions of years -- to discern
whether their food was poisonous or not. "The mouth is absolutely essential
to survival -- everything passes through there, and if it's the wrong thing,
you're cooked," she says.
"The receptors on the lips are incredible," she tells
WebMD. "I've heard hookers say they would rather copulate with somebody
than kiss them because the intensity of kissing somebody is so meaningful.
There's tremendous intimacy. ... Even the genitals do not have the sensitivity
that the lips have."
The Bonding Power of Locking Lips
For man and animals, kissing is a bonding behavior, she says.
"There are all kinds of social reasons that humans and animals kiss, and
they don't all have to do with sex. Most cultures in the world do kiss
sexually. [But some] peoples in South America, some in the Himalaya Mountains,
do not kiss. They find it revolting to exchange saliva."
Kissing also engenders touch, often called "the mother of
the senses, because of its power," says Fisher. "We know that massaging
someone produces increased levels of oxytocin, which is a calming hormone. So
there's every reason to think kissing is extremely calming, if you know the
person well, or extremely stimulating if you are in love with
Studies of rodents -- voles, specifically -- have shown that
oxytocin makes a mother vole become attached to its offspring, says Larry
Young, PhD, professor of psychiatry in the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience
at Emory University Medical School in Atlanta.