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Yes, Virginia, There Is a Pheromone

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Other researchers have laid claim to nailing down the existence of pheromones, most notably Martha McClintock, a researcher at the University of Chicago. She recently published a study on the mood-altering effect of two steroids, androstadienone and estratetaene. So what's new about Berliner's work?

In one respect, he says, nothing. Berliner tells WebMD that he and his colleagues made some of these discoveries as much as 10 years ago. The key was the body's use of the VNO as a pathway for pheromones. That, Berliner says, he wanted to keep "quiet."

"Studies have been going on for many years, but it's just now being published because we had to have the patents," Berliner tells WebMD.

Is there a pheromone love potion in the pipeline? Berliner says they're looking. Because the part of the human brain affected by the chemical is the center for desire, "it won't be a pill that produces erection; it's going to be a spray that just makes you desire, nothing more than that."

As for androstadienone in particular, there's "no sexual effect, not at all. Anybody claiming that this pheromone is sexually attractive is a fake, a fraud. However, it can make a woman feel less negative, and there's no question the negativity goes way down, and that helps a lot in the communication between a man and a woman," Berliner tells WebMD.

He says his company is working with others to develop a spray using synthesized chemicals delivered to the VNO. Different products may help women with PMS, or women and men who suffer from acute anxiety attacks.

George Preti, PhD, who is with the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia, says McClintock's research makes different claims, in one way, than Berliner's, because she doesn't say that the VNO has an active role in the passage of chemicals.

Preti tells WebMD he is skeptical about the latest findings. "The preponderance of data would suggest that the VNO is not functioning in adult humans," he says.

"One must always view things like this with skepticism, because someone with a particular financial position is making statements and doing experiments on things that are going to make him money," he tells WebMD. "Until it's repeated by an independent third or second party, it's kind of hard to say what's real and what's not sometimes."

Vital Information:

 

  • New research has provided further evidence for the existence of a human pheromone, a natural chemical that can alter female behavior by reducing nervousness, tension, and other negative states.
  • Scientists believe that the vomeronasal organ in the nose, which was previously believed to serve no function, receives the pheromone signals and relays them to the brain.
  • One observer expresses skepticism about the latest findings, noting that one of the researchers is in a position to benefit financially.
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