6 surprising health benefits of kissing
July was international kissing month - and that's a reason to celebrate. Kissing makes people feel good and it's packed with health benefits.
Science is on the side of Cupid: multiple studies suggest that kissing can do everything from help burn kilojoules to leaving you on an emotional high.
So put aside the air kiss and get some tongue action.
1) It boosts your mood
Having a blue Monday? Wish your loved one a great day with a kiss before heading to work - it instantly boosts the mood.
Kissing raises levels of oxytocin, the brain chemical associated with trust and attachment.
An experiment conducted at Lafayette College in the US between heterosexual pairs who kissed for 15 minutes while listening to music showed spikes in the chemical.
2) Swapping saliva boosts immunity
It might not sound sexy but the whirlpool of saliva between kissers could be stopping them from catching illnesses.
A study for the journal Microbiome said that couples who kissed frequently shared salivary microbiota which force the body to make antibodies that battle the foreign bacteria.
There's also evidence that it can ''protect pregnant women against in utero teratogenesis by human cytomegalovirus".
Kissing is the immunity-boosting ''supplement" you need, but steer clear from the fact that an average of 80 million bacteria are transferred in a 10-second kiss.
3) Your lips know your type better than any app
Dating websites have nothing on lips when it comes to choosing the right love interest for you.
Dr Helen Fischer explained on Chemistry.com that in a study of 58 men and 122 women, 59% of men and 66% of women said they had ended a romance after the first kiss.
''With this little act, you learn a huge amount about your could-be partner," she writes. ''You can see, smell, taste, hear and feel them all at once. Instantly these messages from your senses are picked up by your nerves and escorted directly to your brain. There they ignite, giving you first-hand information about your partner's health, their eating, drinking and smoking habits, and their state of mind and how they feel about you - from their sense of urgency to calmness."
Whether an awkward off-guard moment or a delicate first date brush of the lips, kissing helps you find out if there's a future there.
A passionate embrace can use up to 34 facial muscles burning around 109kJ per minute.
4) Smooching burns kilojoules
What a reason to exercise! A passionate embrace can use up to 34 facial muscles burning around 109kJ per minute.
That means 10 minutes of active kissing will burn off the Crunchie you ate with your morning coffee.
5) It relieves stress
You've had back-to-back meetings and impossible deadlines; stress levels are high - smooch that stress away.
Kissing reduces the stress hormone cortisol and, according to the book The Neurobiology of Love, stress encourages us to partake in kissing more often, strengthening relationships.
''Stressors trigger a search for pleasure, proximity and closeness and some degree of strong, yet manageable, stress may be necessary for strong bonds to form."
Lust, love and stolen kisses have great stress-reducing potential.
6) Tonsil tennis eases allergies
If you're prepared to commit to a good half an hour session of snogging, your sniffles will ease up.
A Japanese study showed that when patients who suffered from atopic dermatitis or allergic rhinitis resurfaced following 30 minutes of kissing, their symptoms, including hives and levels of plasma neurotrophin, were relieved. - The Daily Telegraph
• This article was originally published in The Times.