“A kiss makes the heart young again and wipes out the years.”
So said Rupert Brooke – and, weirdly enough, he was bang on the money; kissing is packed full of unexpected health benefits. So, in the name of serious research (and the forthcoming festive season), we’ve dug out a few of our favourites.
1. It eases aches and pains – not to mention zaps period cramps
There’s nothing quite like a dose of TLC when you’re feeling achy – but, as it turns out, a little (or a lot of) lip action can help ease chronic pain.
Scientists at Current Pharmaceutical Design recently conducted some research into kissing – and they learned that the “cuddle hormone” oxytocin, which is released when you kiss and hug your partner, is packed full of analgesic painkilling properties.
Throw in the fact that the blood-vessel dilation brought on by a good long smooching session is also great for easing aches and pains, and you have the perfect excuse to lean in for a kiss when you’re on your period.
2. Kissing is good for your oral health
It’s no replacement for brushing or flossing, but frequent kiss-a-thons are extremely good news for your teeth and gums.
Andréa Demirjian, author of Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about One of Life's Sweetest Pleasures, explains: “When you're kissing, you're secreting more saliva in your mouth. That's the mechanism that washes away the plaque on your teeth that leads to cavities.”
Essentially, a kiss a day could keep the dentist away. Always a bonus.
Read more: Science says we should drink more Prosecco
3. It can banish allergies
Hayfever sufferers, rejoice – it seems as if kissing could help to ease our itchy eyes and streaming noses. Well, that’s according to researchers at Satou Hospital in Japan; they conducted a study into the protective effect of smooching against allergies, and they learned that locking lips with someone for just 30 minutes can work wonders.
Apparently it relaxes your body so much that it decreases the release of histamine (aka the chemical that’s pumped out in response to allergens). And it doesn’t just work for hayfever sufferers; a kiss can help to ease the symptoms of eczema and other mild allergies, too.
4. A kiss can reduce your blood pressure
A great kiss can leave you weak at the knees, give your heart a workout, and help to reduce your blood pressure, too.
Demirjian explains: “Kissing passionately gets your heartbeat revved in a healthy way that lowers your blood pressure.
“It dilates the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more freely, taking pressure off your organs, especially your heart and brain.”
5. It can relieve stress
Had a bad day? Make like a Disney princess and head out in search of a
true love’s kiss; science says that it will lower levels of cortisol (the chemical associated with stress) in your body, and help you to relax.
6. Kissing will improve your sex life
Kissing and sex go together like strawberries and cream – for good reason; a smooch is far more likely to boost your chances of reaching orgasm. As Carol Queen, the staff sexologist at Good Vibrations, points out, “Kissing is a powerful type of foreplay... it helps increase the chances that both partners will have a good and pleasurable erotic experience.”
7. It strengthens facial muscles
Did you know kissing involves more than 30 facial muscles? According to Demirjian, tongue wrestling can help to strengthen your neck and jawline – which is very good news, as these are particularly tricky spots to exercise on a daily basis.
“Your mouth has a number of facial muscles,” she says. “When those are engaged in kissing, you can tighten and tone them.”
8. Kissing is a serious mood booster
If you’re feeling a little down in the dumps, a well-timed kiss can flood your body with happy hormones, such as serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. These will help to relax, restore, and revitalise you – not to mention make everything seem better. We imagine we’ll all be canoodling on a far more regular basis after Donald Trump’s inauguration, then…
Read more: Top 50 romantic lines from literature
Throw in the fact that people who enjoy a nice juicy kiss before leaving for work tend to earn more money (not to mention live longer, healthier lives), and you can see why so many books, songs, and films have been written about the power of the smooch.
Excuse us a minute - we’re off to put our scientific learnings to good use…