What’s In a Kiss: The Meaning and Science Behind Kissing

by Lieve Falck-Pedersen

While affection can be shown through words, gestures, smiles and so much more, it can be argued that kissing is the ultimate sign of love—but what’s the reason behind that? Though it seems like something commonplace, the kiss is not actually universal, and there are several cultures (about 10% of the world to be exact) that do not practice this show of affection at all.

Commonly considered to be associated with evolution and sexual selection, there is a divide in evidence that tears historians between believe kissing was made common through culture, or through science.

Supposedly originating in Southeast Asia, it is believed that the kiss was born in India, out of the ancient practice of sharing breath—which then was brought to the West after Alexander the Great invaded India.


A more science-based theory suggests that kissing is evolutionary, and originated from a practice called “kiss feeding” in which mothers feed their infants by chewing food and placing it in their infants mouths.

Though the jury is still out on how kissing came to be such a commonly accepted phenomenon, the health benefits show that we shouldn’t stop anytime soon. Here are a few ways a couple smooches can lead you to a healthier life:

  • Lowers Blood Pressure: Andrea Demirjian, Author of “Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about One of Life’s Sweetest Pleasures,” suggests that kissing can get your heart beating so fast that it can actually lower your blood pressure by dilating your blood vessels. So go get your blood pumping and pucker up!
  • Boosts Serotonin: There’s a reason we get so zen after kissing someone you love—kissing actually increases serotonin levels in the brain! Known as the happiness chemical, this increase of endorphins can quickly boost your mood and keep you from feeling the blues.
  • Gives You a Workout: If you get into the moment, a good make-out sesh can burn as many calories as a brisk walk, and can burn 2 calories per minute! So for those of you who are unmotivated to go to the gym, here’s an exercise that might just intrigue you…
  • Fights Cavities: When kissing, your body naturally produces more saliva, making it easier to wash away plaque that may lead to cavities—but for you and your partner’s sake, we do recommend keeping up with your oral hygiene on a daily basis!

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