As fond as I am of learning new things and seeing scientific frontiers broken, I am convinced that in certain cases, there are some things that science should just leave alone. There is, after all, some stuff we just do not need to know. I was reminded of this recently when I came across an article entitled “Eight reasons why KISSING is so good for your health”.
On the surface, it seemed like an interesting proposition. Can kissing make us healthier, happier human beings? Can it actually make us physically healthier in addition to its emotional benefits? And can we use these findings to improve treatment in workers' comp? Certainly, enquiring minds such as mine wanted to know. Unfortunately, I was just on the first of the eight reasons when I realized I had made a significant mistake.
That first reason given on how kissing can improve your health was the fact that kissing can increase saliva flow, and increased saliva flow “keeps the mouth, teeth and gums healthy by removing food particles.”
This means that, of course, while you are sucking face with your spouse, partner, betrothed, intended or someone you met at the bar 30 seconds ago, you are helping to improve their health by removing food particles from their teeth. Of course, they are also helping you by removing last night's pastrami and sauerkraut, so I guess that is a benefit.
Another reason it improves health is related to the sharing of bacteria. Apparently, we all possess more than 700 unique types of bacteria inside our mouths. Therefore, according to the article, “exchanging saliva can introduce the body to new bacteria”, and “studies have shown that having a diverse amount of bacteria in our bodies correlates with better health - specifically when it comes to our microbiota, or the collection of microorganisms living inside us.”
If this all sounds a tad familiar, it is because it is coincidentally close to an article I wrote last week, entitled “The Potently Palliative Power of Poop”. That was also about the sharing of healthy bacteria, but was taken from a completely different viewpoint. Literally.
It was revealed in the story that a 2014 study conducted by the Dutch found “that a 10-second French kiss can exchange up to 80 million bacteria between us and our partner.” A 10-second French kiss; that's a lot of Mississippi's.
You can almost feel the romance draining away, can't you?
We also discover that kissing can reduce allergies. A scientific team in 2006 “studied 24 patients with two types of allergies: mild atopic eczema (a skin allergy) and mild allergic rhinitis (a nasal allergy).” The patients were checked before and after “kissing their partners for 30 minutes” while listening to Celine Dion's “My Heart Will Go On”. They found that kissing “reduced the body's production of IgE, which is the body's way of reacting to an allergen”.
Ok, I am not sure I could endure 30 minutes of Celine Dion's “My Heart Will Go On”, let alone passionately kiss “Sniffles” for 30 minutes. Something about skin rashes and snotty running noses might be kind of a turn off.
Next up on the kissing health parade is its apparent ability to decrease signs of aging through the facial exercises it provides. Kissing and the related facial manipulations increase blood flow to the face and stimulate the production of collagen, leaving a smoother, less wrinkled appearance in its aftermath. I would take a moment to point out that readers can accomplish these or similar facial expressions by simply reading my blog; especially this article or the The Potently Palliative Power of Poop.
Kissing can help us burn calories, and thanks to this exercise we learn that “kissing with tongue - which uses all the muscles in your face - can burn up to 26 calories per minute”. Well, sign me up! It sure beats an hour at the gym. According to my advanced ciphering skills, that means I could burn 1,560 calories, almost a day's recommended allotment, with just an hour of “kissing with tongue”.
Plus, I'd have the cleanest teeth around.
And finally, kissing makes us healthier by increasing our sex drive. According to the authors:
Kissing prompts your brain to release a happy elixir of feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. Additionally, testosterone - the hormone responsible for sex drive in both women and men - is released into saliva during prolonged kissing.
They explain that “Male saliva has trace amounts of testosterone - and testosterone is an aphrodisiac, so passing saliva during open-mouth kissing over extended periods might help raise her testosterone levels and affect her sex drive.” Pardon my ignorance, but shouldn't her sex drive be somehwat engaged prior to the start of the "open mouth" kissing? This sounds to me like a classic chicken or the egg scenario, except a chicken doesn't have any lips, and according to the study you ain't getting to the egg without 'em. So guys, if you believe the science and the little lady isn't in the mood, you just need to continually kiss her passionately until she changes her mind – or you end up charged with assault and get thrown in prison. In either case you are likely to get lucky, so you might be able to chalk that up as a win.
In the event of that prison scenario, however, you may want to remember that little “saliva testosterone” trick in case you find that you are the one who is not in the mood.
As for applications in the world of workers' compensation, I must admit the potential use of this dramatic discovery will not be very strong. It is going to be difficult to persuade medical providers to prescribe for injured workers routine regimens of passionate kissing, with or without tongue. Plus, when the clinicians are done explaining the reasons behind the treatment protocol, the patients may lose interest entirely.
After all, there is some crap that science should just not try to analyze.
Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
Bob has a couple unique personality characteristics. He firmly believes that everyone has the right to his (Bob's) opinion, and while he may not always be right, he is never in doubt. Enter at your own risk, and like all of our blog areas, we encourage you to read the disclaimer at the bottom of the page.
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Bob is an accomplished speaker for the workers' compensation industry. He is available for conferences, corporate events, children's birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. You may access his Speakers Brief here.