July 6 is International Kissing Day, and experts around the world share the health benefits of kissing as well as different ways of showing affection. From happy hormones to deepened relationships, a kiss on the cheek, the forehead, and on the lips all have their benefit.
Madeleine Mason, a dating coach and relationship expert, shares that the intimate gesture of kissing helps grow the connection between two people. 'Hormones [like] dopamine and oxytocin get released when we kiss, especially kissing in a sensual way - think French kiss (some research suggests for at least 15 minutes at a time).
A boost of the happy hormone cocktail - dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin - happens when you kiss a loved one, whether it is a cheek to cheek greeting with friends or a passionate French kiss with a lover. 'Collectively, it makes kissing a pretty healthy thing to do,' said Madeleine.
Oxytocin is the hormone associated with bonding with another person. It's attached to the feeling of attachment and affection as a physical act communicating care and love.
Another benefit of lip-locking is a boost in the immune system, through sharing saliva. Contrary to popular belief, sharing 80 million bacteria during 10 seconds of kissing is good for building the immune system. Moreover, the chances of getting ill from an exchange of harmful germs are higher in shaking hands than sharing a kiss.
An added health benefit is dental hygiene. The increase of saliva sharing and flow helps with overall oral health. Saliva will also help get rid of bits of food stuck between the teeth.
The euphoric rush and feeling of glee from the happy hormone cocktail also fight levels of cortisol or the stress hormone. The increase of serotonin levels from kissing has a calming effect and ultimately reduces anxiety. The calmness is similar to the effect of meditation.
Dr. Ryan Neinstein, a plastic surgeon, shares that kissing lowers the blood pressure when the lip's blood vessels dilate. 'The blood is then directed toward the face and away from the rest of the body, so the demand on the heart goes down, resulting in lower blood pressure,' he said.
Even more, the heart racing at the excitement of attraction and a passionate kiss increases the blood flow, which also contributes to lowering blood pressure. It can also help women suffering from period cramps, as the increased blood flow and good chemicals relieve the pain in the same way that headaches can be soothed.
Couples passionately kissing also benefit from a facial workout. 30 muscles are at work which helps with younger-looking skin - reduces wrinkles, releases face and neck tension, and keeps the facial skin firm.
Finding the Right Partner
More than strengthening relationships, kissing helps people find the right partner. Sarah Johns, a professor of human reproduction and evolutionary psychology at the University of Kent said, 'Humans don't have strong olfactory skills and kissing allows you to smell and taste a person and see if you have different immune responses as we tend to feel more attracted to someone with a different immune response.'
Kissing is one of the most important ways to share affection, especially for those who have physical touch as their love language. More than a romantic gesture, other ways of kissing such as on the hand, the check and the forehead, show deep and genuine affection.