10 Benefits of Kissing You Probably Never Knew
You’ll want to pucker up after learning these kissing benefits.
Kissing boosts immunity
We know kissing as a social pleasantry, a potential ending to a date and a means of connecting with our main squeeze. The collision of lips and tongues that we often take for granted has a whole lot more bubbling under the surface than meets the eye and actually does a body very, very good. Kissing has long been thought to be a way to pass along bugs and strengthen the body’s defenses. In fact, a study reported in the journal Medical Hypotheses says kissing may increase a woman’s immunity from Cytomegalovirus, which can cause infant blindness and other birth defects if the mother is a carrier during pregnancy. Kissing is just one of the everyday habits with amazing health benefits you never knew about.
Kissing burns calories
Depending on different reports, smooching burns anywhere from two to six calories per minute. Not quite a jog on the treadmill, but locking lips for an hour may burn off half a handful of M&Ms or half a glass of wine. Hey, it’s something. Don’t turn your nose up to these other wacky things you had no idea could burn calories.
Passionate kisses are good for your oral health
According to Mark Burhenne, DDS, founder of Askthedentist.com, and the author of The 8-Hour Sleep Paradox, kissing supports good oral and dental health in a few ways. One is that kissing is one of the few ways to share a good microbiota, according to Dr. Burhenne. “If your oral microbiome isn’t all that diverse or healthy, exchanging saliva with a partner who does have a healthy oral microbiome may be the trick you need to improve the health of your own,” he says.
Kissing keeps facial muscles strong
Sure, tight abs or cellulite-free thighs may be first on your fitness list, but don’t underestimate the workout your mouth gets during a make-out session. Researchers say you use 30 muscles while kissing and that smooching helps keep your cheeks tight. Nice.
Kissing naturally relaxes you
Scientific reports say kissing increases the levels of oxytocin, the body’s natural calming chemical. It also increases endorphins, the body’s feel-good chemicals. Swapping spit also boosts dopamine, which aids in feelings of romantic attachment.
Kissing helps you pick the best mate
Anthropologist Helen Fisher describes kissing as a “mate assessment tool.” Much of the cortex is devoted to picking up sensations from around the lips, cheeks, tongue, and nose. Out of 12 cranial nerves, five of them pick up data from around the mouth. It is built to pick up the most sensitive feelings—the most intricate tastes and smells and touch and temperature. And when you’re kissing somebody, you can really hear them and see them and feel them. So kissing is not just kissing. It is a profound advertisement of who you are, what you want, and what you can give.
Other researchers note that kissing is biology’s way of determining who in nature you are most genetically compatible with. “At the moment of the kiss, there are hard-wired mechanisms that assess health, reproductive status, and genetic compatibility,” says Gordon G. Gallup Jr., a professor of evolutionary psychology at the State University of New York at Albany who studies reproductive competition and the biology of interpersonal attraction. “Therefore, what happens during that first kiss can be a make-or-break proposition.” No pressure, though. Speaking of first kisses, these awkward true first kiss stories are sure to make you laugh (and cringe).
Kissing can reduce stress
There’s nothing like a good smooch after a long, stressful day. In addition to releasing a surge of the relaxing hormone oxytocin, kissing has also been linked to a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. It can also boost levels of serotonin, which leads to feelings of calm and contentedness. Ever wonder why you lean to the right when you kiss? Yes, there’s a reason for that.
Kissing can soothe headache pain
The idea that a simple kiss can reduce the pain of a headache might sound like nothing more than a trick of the placebo effect, but it’s totally true! Because of the increased blood flow that kissing produces, it can reduce aches and pains, headaches, and menstrual cramps, too. It helps that kissing lowers stress which is known to trigger headaches.
Kissing can lower blood pressure
You might have noticed that kissing gets your heart pumping—and that’s a good thing. According to Andrea Demirjian, author of Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about One of Life’s Sweetest Pleasures, your increased heartbeat causes your blood vessels to dilate, getting healthy amounts of blood to your organs and helping to reduce your blood pressure. Plus, lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which we already know kissing reduces, corresponds to low blood pressure.
Kissing could improve allergy symptoms
One study suggests kissing could help lessen allergic reactions. The researchers looked at patients with two types of allergies—one skin allergy and one nasal allergy—before and after kissing their partner for 30 minutes. After kissing, the patients saw less of an allergic reaction and symptoms. Now that you know the benefits of smooching, check out these fun facts about kissing you never knew.