Kiss Your Way To Better Health

Sarah Jio

Zap stress

Had a rough day at the office? Experts say a nice, long kiss can significantly lower stress levels. A 2008 study by scientists at Lafayette College in the US found kissing, particularly a smooch of at least 20 seconds, sends a cocktail of feelgood hormones through the bloodstream: endorphins, oxytocin and dopamine - all of which can make you feel happier fast. "Kissing is an easy way to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to poor health. Plus, kissing calms anxiety," says US psychotherapist Tina B Tessina. "The cuddling and touching that goes with the kissing floods you with even more beneficial hormones."

Boost immunity

Although swapping saliva sounds like a germ-laden proposition, it's actually a powerful immunity supporter. Doctors say passing germs from one mouth to another increases your body's production of antibodies (your natural immune response) in the same way that a flu shot protects you. "Even the mild exchange of saliva improves immune defences by helping expose the body to small amounts of viruses and bacteria that you develop antibodies to," says psychiatrist Dr Scott Haltzman. "Like acupressure, it may improve the immune system and reduce feelings of stress or pain."

Muscle up

Forget Botox and nip-tucks, experts claim locking lips regularly can keep your face toned and supple. "A good kissing session is like a work-out for your face," says Tessina. "You're working muscles you don’t always use, keeping your facial muscles in top shape." To maximise the muscle-toning benefits of kissing, says Tessina, ramp things up. "The more intense, the better. Keep it fun and giggly, and you'll tone abdomen muscles laughing, too."

Fight allergies
Pollen getting to you? Then try medicating with kisses. Researchers from Japan's Ujitakeda Hospital report that 30 minutes of kissing can reduce your body's production of histamine** - the neurotransmitter your body releases during an allergic reaction - in the same way some cold medicines work to stop sneezing and runny noses. "Kissing appears to suppress the body's allergic reactions by reducing the flood of reactive chemicals (like histamine) that fight against allergens in the environment," explains Dr Haltzman. "It's as if the mouth responds to smooching by sending a message to the rest of the body that says, 'Relax, little things that bother you can't affect you anymore.'"