my entity
2001-11-16 17:58:24 (UTC)

What's Great About Kissing....

gosh.....this is kinda on folks!


Finally, something that feels good that's not bad for you.
In fact, say our lip service experts, laying a big wet one
on the right partner can be downright good for your health.

By Jeanie Davis

Nov. 12, 2001 -- Faith Hill has it right -- a great kiss
makes the world dissolve, makes us dizzy with desire.

"Kissing is passion and romance and what keeps people
together," says Michael Cane, author of The Art of Kissing,
who "lectures" on kissing at colleges around the country.

"Women say they can tell if a relationship is going to work
after the first kiss, after the first night of kissing," he
says. "They just get a feeling, an intuition."

And while kissing may feel oh-so-good, it also has health
benefits, too. It triggers a whole spectrum of
physiological processes that boost your immunity and
generally spruce up that body you work so hard to keep

Kiss Me, You Fool

Among the benefits of a good wet one: That extra saliva
washes bacteria off your teeth, which can help break down
oral plaque, says Mathew Messina, DDS, a private practice
dentist in Fairview Park, Ohio, and consumer advisor for
the American Dental Association. "Still, I would not go
around advocating kissing after meals instead of brushing,"
he says.

A serious, tongue-tangling French kiss exercises all the
underlying muscles of the face -- which some say could keep
you looking younger, and certainly looking happier.

Kissing might even help you lose weight, says Bryant
Stamford, PhD, professor and director of the health
promotion center at the University of Louisville. "During a
really, really passionate kiss, you might burn two calories
a minute -- double your metabolic rate," he says. (This
compares to 11.2 calories per minute you burn jogging on a

"But if your motivation for kissing is to burn calories,
you're in trouble," Stamford points out.

When you give sugar, you actually burn sugar. Sex sparks a
good calorie burn, Stamford says, especially "if you're
passionately involved, thrashing around. If things were
really hot and heavy, you might be looking at a caloric
expenditure similar to a brisk walk."

But don't confuse great sex with a cardiovascular workout,
he says.

"People tend to have the misconception that anything that
raises your heart rate has the same effect as jogging, so
it must be good for fitness. Not true," he says. "Anything
can get your heart racing ... that's just adrenaline."

Kissing as Meditation

Tension relief -- that's what good lovin' brings, says
Stamford. "Sex and love are probably the Rodney Dangerfield
of stress management. Because of all the negative energy we
take in during the day, it's a very positive benefit."

All in all, kissing and everything it engenders keeps us
going strong, living long, says Stamford. "The process of
being active -- and that can include kissing, sex, and any
other whole-body activities -- that's what keeps you

Sex, sensuality, and sensual touch have profound effects on
well-being, says Joy Davidson, PhD, psychologist and
clinical sexologist in Seattle, and former columnist for an
online column called "Underwire."

"Kissing is an exciting excursion into the sensual,"
Davidson tells WebMD. "If we happen to be connecting with
someone we care about, it produces a sense of well-being
and a kind of full-bodied pleasure."

Kissing is also "a sensual meditation," she says. "It stops
the buzz in your mind, it quells anxiety, and it heightens
the experience of being present in the moment. It actually
produces a lot of the physiological changes that meditation

And while kissing may be nature's way of "opening the door
to the sexual experience," she says, "it also has all that
lusciousness that we need to pull us out of the mundane and
the ordinary and take us into moments of the

Birds, Bees, and More

Birds do it -- tap their bills together, that is.

"We don't know if bees do it," says Helen Fisher, PhD,
professor of anthropology at Rutgers University in Newark,
N.J., and author of several books, including The Sex
Contract and Anatomy of Love. Romantic love is her research

"All kinds of animals kiss," says Fisher. "Insects will
stroke each other with a leg, or stroke another's abdomen.
Even turtles, moles, and cats rub noses. Dogs lick each
other's faces. Elephants put their trunks in another
elephant's mouth."

When chimpanzees kiss, "it's with a deep French kiss," she
says. "They do it for all kinds of reasons -- there's
social kissing, kissing to relieve tension, to express
friendship, to make up after an argument. Two males will
kiss, two females will kiss, a mother and child will kiss
on the lips. They don't choose mates; it's whomever they're
interacting with."

Kissing is a very investigatory process, Fisher explains.

"By the time you're kissing someone, you're right up next
to them, you are in their personal space," she says. "That
in itself means you have trusted them. You're also learning
quite a bit about them -- you touch them, smell them, taste
them, see the expressions on their face, learn something
about their health status, learn a great deal about their

The brain contains "a huge amount of receptors devoted to
picking sensations from the lips," Fisher says. "When
people have been stabbed in the back, they often don't know
it. They think someone has pounded them with their fist,
because there aren't many receptor sites for nerve

Why? All these sensors aid our survival. They direct a baby
toward milk; they helped our ancestors -- for millions of
years -- to discern whether their food was poisonous or
not. "The mouth is absolutely essential to survival --
everything passes through there, and if it's the wrong
thing, you're cooked," she says.

"The receptors on the lips are incredible," she tells
WebMD. "I've heard hookers say they would rather copulate
with somebody than kiss them because the intensity of
kissing somebody is so meaningful. There's tremendous
intimacy. ... Even the genitals do not have the sensitivity
that the lips have."

The Bonding Power of Locking Lips

For man and animals, kissing is a bonding behavior, she
says. "There are all kinds of social reasons that humans
and animals kiss, and they don't all have to do with sex.
Most cultures in the world do kiss sexually. [But some]
peoples in South America, some in the Himalaya Mountains,
do not kiss. They find it revolting to exchange saliva."

Kissing also engenders touch, often called "the mother of
the senses, because of its power," says Fisher. "We know
that massaging someone produces increased levels of
oxytocin, which is a calming hormone. So there's every
reason to think kissing is extremely calming, if you know
the person well, or extremely stimulating if you are in
love with somebody."

Studies of rodents -- voles, specifically -- have shown
that oxytocin makes a mother vole become attached to its
offspring, says Larry Young, PhD, professor of psychiatry
in the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience at Emory
University Medical School in Atlanta.

Whether a guy vole sticks around "afterward" seems to be
driven by oxytocin, Young tells WebMD.

Prairie voles are the only vole species that mate for life;
their genetic makeup drives them to produce satisfying
amounts of oxytocin. On the other hand, mountain voles are
loners and breed promiscuously; they produce virtually no
oxytocin or vasopressin, the male version of the hormone.

In humans, this translates into the bonding benefits of
kissing, foreplay, every bit of touching you do.

Here's a tip: "One of most powerful releases of oxytocin is
stimulation of the nipples," Young tells WebMD. It's the
same biological mechanism that triggers milk flow during
nursing. Sucking triggers oxytocin release, and thus the
bond is created.

Humans, interestingly enough, are the only species that
includes nipple stimulation in lovemaking, he adds.

Romance, Love -- or Lust?

That rush that sweeps through your body, during those
particularly great kisses? Fisher knows it well.

"Kissing is contextual," she says. "A kiss can be wildly
sexual, wildly romantic, or it can be deeply gratifying
because it's an affirmation of attachment. Kissing somebody
for the first time, rather than the 200th or 2,000th time,
creates a situation of incredible novelty."

That rush you feel is probably from two natural stimulants -
- dopamine and norepinephrine, Fisher says. "They tend to
be activated when you get into a novel situation."

Fisher says there are three different stages one typically
goes through:

lust -- the craving for sexual gratification
romantic love -- the feeling of giddiness, euphoria,
sleeplessness, and loss of appetite when you meet a new
attachment -- that sense of security you find with a with
long-term partner.

"Each of these is associated with different chemical
systems in the brain," says Fisher. Sex drive and lust are
triggered by testosterone, in both men and women. Dopamine
and norepinephrine kick in when romance begins. Oxytocin
and vasopressin factor in at the attachment phase, bringing
the sense of calm and peace you find with "the one."

If you're in the midst of a "mad love affair, it's quite
possible you simply feel levels of dopamine, that zing of
romantic infatuation," Fisher tells WebMD. "If all you're
doing is having a sexual fling with someone you like very
well -- but are not in love with and don't feel attached
to -- then all you may feel is sex drive, the effects of

Unless you're kissing the wrong person, kissing quite
likely is good for us, says Fisher.

"I've often thought it would boost the immune system," she
says. "If you're sharing your germs with somebody, you're
adding to your internal defense system."

Kissing also stimulates the brain, and when the experience
is a positive one, "you notice it," she says. "That
translates into the euphoria, or the sex drive, or the
sense of calm and peace.

"Kissing helps your state of mind," she adds. "Infatuation
can be perfectly divine. If you're madly in love with
somebody, it's perfectly wonderful to kiss them. It creates
incredible intimacy. It boosts self-esteem. It's wonderful
to be kissed by somebody."

1:56 AM

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