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3 reasons kissing is good for you

Nov 13, 2018
By Michelle Konstantinovsky
Man kissing woman and holding hand

Last updated November 13, 2018.

Sweaty palms, racing heart, awkward nose bumps: kisses can be sweet, sexy, exhilarating and sometimes a little stressful. But did you know it can also be good for your health? There’s a good reason a solid make out session can leave you feeling a little high on life: kisses set off a cascade of hormones and physiological changes that can boost your mood, strengthen your relationship and even burn some calories (between 5 and 26 per minute, according to experts). Believe it or not, there are even more great reasons to keep puckering up – check out these three scientifically backed benefits of kissing:

1. It Lowers Your Stress Levels

If your partner is driving you crazy, schedule some regular make outs to take the edge off. According to researchers from Arizona State University, couples who kicked up the frequency of their kissing a notch for six weeks had less perceived stress, improved relationship satisfaction and lower total serum cholesterol.

The stress-lowering effects of kissing can be attributed to a number of reasons, but according to psychologist Wendy L. Hill and researchers at Lafayette College, it’s all about hormones. Hill and her colleagues compared the levels of two important hormones in 15 college couples before and after kissing and before and after holding hands during a conversation. The hormones they monitored were oxytocin, which is important for social bonding, and cortisol, a key stress hormone. While oxytocin only increased in the male participants (leading researchers to theorize that perhaps females require more romantic stimulation than a kiss in a sterile laboratory setting to feel bonded), cortisol declined in both sexes after kissing and holding hands. As author Sheril Kirshenbaum puts it in her book, The Science of Kissing: What Our Lips Are Telling Us, “a good kiss brings the sense of relaxation, as well as positive feelings of reward and security, thus reinforcing the behavior and leading to further kisses.”

2. It May Help With Allergies

Believe it or not, puckering up has actually been shown to alleviate allergy symptoms. Japanese researcher Hajime Kimata studied 24 patients with eczema and 24 patients with hay fever who were allergic to house dust mites and cedar pollen. According to Kimata, the subjects were “Japanese, and they do not kiss habitually.”

He instructed the participants to kiss freely for 30 minutes with their significant others while listening to ballads like Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On. Before and after the make outs, Kimata performed a series of skin prick tests to measure the amount of allergen-specific immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies that trigger symptoms like sneezing and sniffling. It seems kissing led to lower levels of these antibodies, and lest you think it was the sweet sounds of the Titanic soundtrack that led to differences, Kimata also instructed a control group to embrace without kissing for 30 minutes while listening to the same music. Only the kissers had significantly lower IgE levels, leading Kimata to believe the benefit was solely due to smooching.

3. It Can Boost Your Immunity

According to a study published in the journal Microbiome, kissing is a prime way to spread germs–but that’s actually a good thing. For every 10 seconds of kissing, you pass along 80 million bacteria that may help your partner fight off future infections, and vice versa. Mixing your unique individual blends of living bacteria will also apparently enable you both to cope with similar infections. The researchers say the immune-boosting results were most pronounced “in couples with relatively high intimate kiss frequency,” so if you haven’t already, take that as an incentive to find a make-out partner you really want to keep around.

And if you’ve already found that special someone, pucker up often.


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Michelle Konstantinovsky

Michelle Konstantinovsky is an experienced writer, regularly producing content on a variety of wellness-oriented topics ranging from breaking health news to fitness and nutrition. Michelle has a master’s degree from UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and has written extensively on health and body image for outlets like O: The Oprah Magazine, Slate, SPIN.com, xoJane.com, and The Huffington Post. To read more of her work, visit www.michellekmedia.com.

The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, a national, modern primary care practice pairing 24/7 virtual care services with inviting and convenient in-person care at over 100 locations across the U.S. One Medical is on a mission to transform health care for all through a human-centered, technology-powered approach to caring for people at every stage of life.

Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. 1Life Healthcare, Inc. and the One Medical entities make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.