Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What Happens to our Bodies When We Kiss?

Be it an impulsive peck of affection or a succulent languorous lip-lock, a kiss can tickle like an innocent crush or make you shudder with anticipated delight. No matter what kissing means to you, it’s sure to get your juices flowing.


Experts say all that “warm ’n fuzzy” oozing through us like the raspberry jam piped into a powdered jelly donut, stimulates our brain. When lips and tongues intertwine, our neural networks get fired up. Zing! A signal transmits the 411 from the eensy nerves in our mouths, lips and nose to the brain in a nanosecond. That little cranial box is the ultimate operating system. Our hearts beat double time. Our lungs pump pump pump. Our salivary glands mist like a garden sprinkler. And our jawbones unhinge as our snake-charmed tongues come a’ twirlin’ out like a swizzled cocktail stirrer (did you know the jaw is the only bone in the skull with an open-and shut latch?).

“The anatomical juxtaposition of two obbicularis oris muscles in a state of contraction.”
DR. HENRY GIBBONS (1808–1884)

With tongues and lips slinking and sliding all over, that signal zips along the spine (our internal cable wire). Messages from the pancreas and adrenal glands tap our pelvic nerves. Everything starts puffing and expanding. Arteries and veins burst open wide. Lips swell like they’ve been stung by bees. With all that blood rushing and spreading through us like a wildfire, we get all flushed. And tingle in certain places. It’s like we’ve been tickled with a feather. Ooo la la, your toes start to sing!

“It is the passion that is in a kiss that gives to it its sweetness; it is the affection in a kiss that sanctifies it.”

Getting scientific for a moment, good passionate kissing causes a norepinephrine, dopamine and phenylethylamine rush (also known as PEA). These neurotransmitters collide with the brain’s pleasure receptors, creating feelings of delirium. Parachuting, bungee jumping and other extreme sports cause a similar adrenaline surge. If you ask me, that’s really a lot of work with the renting of all that equipment and stuff (let alone the risk) for a high you could get in your living room.


Accenting all this delightfulness, kissing is instructional. Just ask a philematologist (one who studies kissing). They’ll tell you kissing is an instinctual survival mechanism that allows us to send and receive vital information.

With a kiss, a girl sips a guy’s pheremonal cocktail. Brushing against his cheeks and lips, she picks up his scent, his smell and his taste. It can also signal his intentions, expressions and personality. If his hygiene and skin care runs rugged or fair. Whether he’s generous or a tad stingy. Even if he’s had Chinese for lunch.

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