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Can kissing make you less stressed? The surprising health benefits of the act

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Kayleigh Dray
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Happy smooching…

Kissing is great, isn’t it? Especially when it’s with the right person. That one individual who makes our heart leap and gives us butterflies, too. 

But what if we told you that it also reduces our stress levels as well as making us feel joy? According to a 2009 scientific study, when we kiss our bodies release hormones that help to ease stress – even encouraging bonding in men.

Which is why at Stylist we tested the research by inviting total strangers into the office to, well, kiss. There was awkwardness, little conversation and more. Watch our video above to see what happened and read below all of the health benefits associated with kissing the ones we love in the run up to Valentine’s Day. 

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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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.”

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.”

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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…

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…

Images: Unsplash

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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