Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentines Day and Philematology

Dr. Steven Horvitz- Reading between the Lines:
Bringing you healthcare information you can trust!

February 14, 2009


An excellent spelling bee word and good segway towards Valentines Day.

So what is philematology and how does it relate to a wellness newsletter?

Keep reading.

The answer is written below.
Kisses unleash chemicals that ease stress levels
By RANDOLPH E. SCHMID, AP Science Writer Randolph E. Schmid, Ap Science Writer

CHICAGO – "Chemistry look what you've done to me," Donna Summer crooned in Science of Love, and so, it seems, she was right. Just in time for Valentine's Day, a panel of scientists examined the mystery of what happens when hearts throb and lips lock. Kissing, it turns out, unleashes chemicals that ease stress hormones in both sexes and encourage bonding in men, though not so much in women.
Chemicals in the saliva may be a way to assess a mate, Wendy Hill, dean of the faculty and a professor of neuroscience at Lafayette College, told a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science on Friday.
In an experiment, Hill explained, pairs of heterosexual college students who kissed for 15 minutes while listening to music experienced significant changes in their levels of the chemicals oxytocin, which affects pair bonding, and cortisol, which is associated with stress. Their blood and saliva levels of the chemicals were compared before and after the kiss.
Both men and women had a decline in cortisol after smooching, an indication their stress levels declined.
For men, oxytocin levels increased, indicating more interest in bonding, while oxytocin levels went down in women. "This was a surprise," Hill said.
In a test group that merely held hands, chemical changes were similar, but much less pronounced, she said.
The experiment was conducted in a student health center, Hill noted. She plans a repeat "in a more romantic setting."
Hill spoke at the session on the Science of Kissing, along with Helen Fisher of Rutgers University and Donald Lateiner of Ohio Wesleyan University.
Fisher noted that more than 90 percent of human societies practice kissing, which she believes has three components — the sex drive, romantic love and attachment.
The sex drive pushes individuals to assess a variety of partners, then romantic love causes them to focus on an individual, she said. Attachment then allows them to tolerate this person long enough to raise a child.
Men tend to think of kissing as a prelude to copulation, Fisher said. She noted that men prefer "sloppy" kisses, in which chemicals including testosterone can be passed on to the women in saliva. Testosterone increases the sex drive in both males and females.
"When you kiss an enormous part of your brain becomes active," she added. Romantic love can last a long time, "if you kiss the right person."
Lateiner, a classical scholar, observed that kissing appears infrequently in Greek and Roman art, but was widely practiced, despite the spread of skin disease at that time by facial kissing. And there was a potential for social faux pas by kissing the wrong person at the wrong time.
Overall, the science of kissing — philematology — is under-researcherd, Hill concluded.


Philematology- the science of kissing.

The perfect subject for Valentine's Day.

An interesting article that has some interesting results.

If a well timed hug can relieve stress and anxiety, why not kissing.

Cortisol, the stress hormone, decreases in both males and females with kissing.

And oxytocin, a hormone that helps us bond, went up in males, but down in females. Interestingly, oxytocin rises during pregnancy and childbirth and is critically important in mother-child bonding.
Does this mean that women are better kissers than men?
Or maybe it means that college women have their priorities more in order than college men.

This study was completed at Lafayette College.

As with most medical research, more studies need to be done.

Rumor has it that Lafayette College applied for a research grant from the federal government for future studies. If granted, that would give the "stimulus bill" a new meaning ; )

Now a few words of warning:
1) Any parents of Lafayette college students should be made aware of the planned future studies to be conducted in a "more romantic setting."
2) And any soon to be college students? Lafayette College may warrant a second look ; )

But in all seriousness, being with those we love, and hugging and kissing, does relieve stress, and this study shows how our bodies make this happen. So after a hard day at work, go home and kiss your spouse and hug your kids. We now know that you will probably feel better for the effort!!

Best Wishes to One and All for a Happy Valentine's Day!!

And as for a picture of one of my favorite kisses, it is pictured below:

Steven Horvitz, D.O.
Board Certified Family Medicine
Founder of The Institute for Medical Wellness

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