It’s that time of year again when you dust off your lucky pants, comb your hair and head out for a dodgy curry with someone you met on a dating website. YES everyone loves Valentine’s day (even if your only card comes from the cat (who, by the way, forgot how to spell your name)) but not everyone loves having to trudge the shops for that special something with which to woo your intended.  

Setting the Mood

Let me give you a helping hand in the shape of some pheromone-tastic love potions.  May I introduce you to Lorne Caplan from Master and .  

Now like most people I have heard of pheromones, I even went to a lecture about them at last years Australian Science Festival: Pre Coital with Chris Krishna-Pillay which was fun.  However, the science behind these little love molecules has befuddled me for some time. What I want to know is this:  Can our sense of smell over-ride all other triggers in order to make us fall in love with the ‘right’ person?  

Let’s ask the expert. Lorne Caplan.   

“Your interest in the research behind pheromones is well founded since they have a mixed reputation and there are plenty of detractors out there. Yet, over the last decade, there has been a mountain of research, clinical studies and white papers, not only evidencing the existence of these protein and enzyme chemicals, but also on the impact that they have on the mental aspect of both men and women.
What we are exploring now, is the effect that specific pheromones such as androsterone and androstenedione have on sufferers of anxiety disorders and depression (the clinical variety). We’ve also been approached by a football (American) to do a study on how these pheromones enhance performance, but of course, we’d have to label the testers differently as no football jock is likely to try a pheromone with his colleagues in the locker room. A lot of pre-conceived notions of how they do and don’t work and that is one of the first areas I would explore with anyone, that fact that pheromones aren’t going to make a man or woman jump one another. They work differently and that is what we’ve found out over the years”  

Interesting, so pheromones are not just bedroom chemicals.
“What I’m talking about here is the sensitive olfactory system and how it is tied to the limbic brain and short circuits the pre-frontal lobe (or the modern mans brain). As computing power has gotten greater and our ability to monitor brain function has markedly improved, we can now assess which parts of the brain are, or aren’t stimulated by scent and which scents do the stimulating. Once those areas of the brain that control lust, feelings of comfort, safety, or anger are lit up, then we can make a determination that, say, vanilla has an aphrodisiac effect and rose does not.
Most researchers that aren’t familiar with scent usually just poo-poo this sense away as being a touchy-feely aspect of our human physiology and nothing could be farther from the truth. We know, through research, that our dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and other hormones are motivated to change by the way we as humans feel. Scent makes humans feel. Why? Because unlike touch, sight and taste, we don’t have a nervous system that sends messages to our brain for interpretation to then react to the initiating act. Sound as well has to be interpreted by the brain. Scent IS NOT and that is why it is so powerful (both negatively and positively, depending on how we react and that is a unique aspect of humans, we choose to react in a certain way, lower mammals do not, they DO just jump the opposite sex… although some humans don’t have as developed a pre-frontal lobe and also react that way and that is why we have prisons!). Scent evokes a reaction a response with little or no time to moderate it. Subsequently, we then FEEL which sets off a cascade of hormones which does physiologically change us because hormones are the messengers that our body needs and has to set certain processes in motion, whether tissue healing, inflammatory responses or otherwise, but this is why pheromones are so powerful along with aphrodisiac carriers.”  

Even better, so pheromones set off chemical reactions within us that we can’t control. They can change our moods and release the feel-good chemicals.  If this keeps going on the government may try to ban them 🙂  

So what about this Vomeronasal Organ that we hear about from time to time?  

“I agree that the search for the vomeronasal organ (VNO) is still under dispute with some physicians and researchers saying we have them and this organ is the exclusive processor of pheromone chemicals, while others say no, only lower mammals still have them and the ones that have been found in some humans are vestigial organs with no operating capability. In my mind, neither here nor there since the olfactory minds are still arguing about whether scent is solely founded on the shape of the molecule, the vibration of the molecule or both. I’m on the latter side of the scientific argument (you can check-out Luca Turin, now a professor at MIT here in the US and Science magazine for that debate). Overall, however, the discussion is a further foundation for the healing powers of our olfactory systems and research is beginning to boom because we now know how to measure the results as opposed to simply getting anecdotal responses from test subjects.”  

This sounds like the basis of aromatherapy but here we are using our bodies own chemicals to self-medicate. 

“So now, the Monell Institute (in Pennsylvania), the Chicago Taste and Smell Institute and many other Universities and private labs have taken up the science of scent for therapeutic and physiological bases, testing aromatherapy as well as pheromones to determine what activity if any they have. Keeping in mind that “They” number in the hundreds of compounds and that is part of the pheromone myth or detraction. There are over 400 that have been identified, most of which are components or partial pieces of hormones that are changed at the molecular level by the waste process of the skin and other organs/systems in our bodies when excreting these waste products. We now know of a group that come from women exclusively as derivatives from the coital area (essentially combinations of estrogens and progesterone now called copulins). What is important here, again, is whether they have any effect on a humans brain through the olfactory system and only a very few do, perhaps 1-2% of these pheromone chemicals.”  

So not all pheromones are created sexually. I like it!
“We’ve also been able to synthesize them, which we couldn’t do before as they were too expensive, similar to the process used to synthesize peptides (do you see the connection here, all made up by similar components being amino acids for the most part). For example, now that peptides are able to be synthesized we find them in all sorts of miracle skincare creams and even haircare products.  

That is essentially how I stumbled upon pheromones. I am an anti-aging focused product developer, researcher and marketer. I scan the globe for the newest ingredients that actually work or are unique, not a me too product or some revamped ingredient that has been around for ages. In my search for such products a decade ago, I met with a wonderful older physician and researcher, Dr. Pugliese (now 86) who claimed to be the discoverer of pheromones (which is disputed by Martha McClintock and Winnefred Cutler and the dispute goes on today. Oh these researchers!). In a discussion of anti-cellulite compounds and other topical skincare ingredients and delivery systems, he mentioned the changes that we as humans feel and subsequently our physiology changes and I asked him what he was talking about. He mentioned the olfactory system and it’s method of action on our brain (the true sex organ, especially for the cerebral female of the species). That is when our discussion of pheromones ensued and his synthesis and stockpile at his lab was revealed to me.”  

Maybe pheromones have an anti-ageing secret. I guess if they make us feel good and stimulate our bodies in a good way then we will be fitter and healthier!
“From all of this has come another benefit, that being my secondary career in romance, passion and intimacy, which comes from my pheromone expertise. Of course, if these areas are emphasized in ones life, then it is likely that the persons health and wellness will be positively impacted, particularly the brain and it’s activity and here, I mean mood, attitude, confidence, self-esteem, happiness and related good emotions which we can all use in spades. Particularly when the relationships we humans would like or dream of are being bombarded by and under attack by the American hip-hop culture which sets out very negative stereotypes and definitions of how women should be treated and how relationships are expected to be portrayed. Ho’s and pimps rein and sophistication and elegance, courtship and related respect and consideration are very much on the decline and my products are one way to change that, but I know it will be a difficult climb.”  

So, pheromones ARE good for your love life! On that note I think I will put in my order and prepare for some loving!  

Have fun with your body chemistry this valentines day.