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Pucker Up and
Do It for Your Health - Kissing

By Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, B.Sc., M.D., Ph.D.

Article printed on page 13 in the February 14-15, 2009 issue
Reprinted on page A6 in the January 13, 2010 issue of
The Mississauga News under the Feature:
Health & Beauty, Medicine Matters
Portrait of Dr. Peter W. Kujtan, supplied 2005
Dr. Peter W. Kujtan

A Kiss can refer to a rock band, a disease, a chocolate or a common human behavior, but one thing is for sure, it deserves a lot of attention and respect. If performed vigorously with enthusiasm, kissing can burn calories and exercise a myriad of face muscles, helping to tone your complexion. But those who kiss shyly, or in a coy and gentle manner may experience other benefits. Kissing has been shown to improve blood pressure and your cardiovascular status. The levels of circulating glucocorticoids seem to drop after a kiss, while levels of oxytocin can increase. Plainly speaking, kissing relaxes us, reduces stress and even produces euphoria.

Kissing invades our personal space, and brings two people in close physical proximity. This allows other senses of tactile touch, sight and smell to enter the equation and trigger those deeper parts of the brain to come alive and release neural messengers to warm up the engine for what might come next. It is thought that the close proximity may allow exchange of silent airborne messengers called pheromones, in addition to the more obvious exchange of saliva and the occasional bug. Our lips contain a thin layer of skin brimming with nerve endings, as do the tip of the tongue and a portion of the gums.

Kissing is quite unique to humans, but similar types of behavior are seen in chimpanzees and other primates. When you stop to consider how much information can be exchanged without a spoken word during a kiss, it may be conceivable to believe that it evolved to help humans form bonds and relationships.

You can't help but enjoy a good kiss. Suffice it to say, the more you put into it the more health benefits will come out of it. I think we need a campaign to "kiss for good health". Do it often and with vigor. It costs nothing, goes fine with alcohol and most non-spicy foods. So pucker up for your health, and start your Valentine's Day with a healthy dose of natural goodness!

Related resources:

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." Article by Jeanie Lerche Davis, from WebMD.
What's in a kiss? by Amy Toffelmire, from MedBroadcast.
Kissing and Your Health from BetterHealth, State of Victoria, Australia. "Kissing offers many health benefits but may also transmit a small number of disease-causing bacteria and viruses."
Infectious mononucleosis from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Infectious Mononucleosis from MedlinePlus. Also called: Glandular fever, Kissing disease, Mono, Mononucleosis.
Mononucleosis from MayoClinic. Infectious mononucleosis (mono) is often called the kissing disease.
What's Mono? from KidsHealth.

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