There’s No Better Drug Than A Good Kiss, UT Researcher Finds

So did you get a New Year’s kiss? Here’s hoping so — researchers say it should have provided you a natural high. Better for you than drugs, of course, but with a similar effect on your brain.

Science writer and UT

research associate Sheril Kirshenbaum, author of The Science of Kissing, explains that while you think you’re just floating along, your senses are actually transmitting countless signals to your brain that tell the rest of your body how to chemically respond. 

“A good kiss can work like a drug, influencing the hormones and neurotransmitters coursing through our bodies,” Kirshenbaum wrote recently in the Washington Post.

Some aspects of your physical response can be consciously felt; others can’t. During a passionate kiss, the pulse quickens, blood vessels dilate, breathing deepens, cheeks flush, pupils dilate, and the brain receives more oxygen.

A good kiss triggers oxytocin, the “love hormone,” promoting social bonding and a special connection between two people.

But a bad kiss can stimulate cortisol, the “stress hormone,” making you want to stop.

And it’s not a matter of technique — Kirshenbaum says the smell, taste, and pheromones involved in kissing help you suss out whether your partner is a good genetic match for you. (She’s got lots more scientific detail if you’re interested — read her Post article here, or watch the video below.)

As the kissing expert says, “It’s not magic — it’s chemistry and neuroscience.”


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