Do Pheromone Colognes Actually Work?

Do pheromones actually work? Scientists have discovered that our best intentions to control what we broadcast into the world may be futile. Could it be that we have much in common with animals and insects, whose cues for sexual reproduction, dominance, and aggression spring directly from pheromonal communication?

What provokes gut feelings about certain situations and people? Why are we attracted to one person and repelled by an- other? What announces our sexual availability, our aggressive attitudes, our plays for dominance on the sports field or in the corporate boardroom? What makes us love James instead of Robert, Christine instead of Patricia, Sam instead of Martin? In A Natural History of tbe Senses, writer and naturalist Diane Ackerman calls pheromones “the pack animals of desire.” It now seems possible that these “pack animals” are largely responsible for hooking us up with people whose chemistry incites desire or some other positive emotion in us and for keeping us away from people whose chemical signals we deem unappealing.

In his book Society and Solitude, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Society exists by chemical affinity, and not otherwise.” Emerson was not referring to pheromones, but to the centuries-old human conflict between solitude and spending time with other people. Still, this quotation can be used to illustrate our point: A kind of built-in chemical affinity, which could be related directly to pheromones, defines human interaction.

That may be why people who live in isolation often have weaker-than-average immune systems and diminished psychological health. When you choose one lover over another, avoid an acquaintance, pursue a romance even though it might not be the wisest thing to do, or nurture the bond between yourself and your newborn baby, new research suggests that you are subconsciously following the ancient rules of pheromones; in other words, you are being influenced by your sixth sense.

Nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche summed it up best when he said, “All of my genius resides in my nostrils.” That genius, it seems, is innate in all humans. The “agony of love”? The “sickness the doctors cannot cure”? Can the simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating experience of being lovesick, of being impaled by the arrow of Eros, be reduced to a chemical reaction in the brain?

A New Science Begins

The story of pheromones began to unfold in the 1950s, when scientists Peter Karlson and Martin Liischer created the word pheromone to refer to the invisible chemical communicators used by the lower orders. (A combination of the Greek words pherein [“I carry”] and bormon [“to excite”l, pheromone means “I carry excitement”) But even a new word added to the lexi- con didn’t spark immediate studies into how pheromones might affect humans; it was thought that pheromones served a purpose only in the animal and insect worlds, and research money was distributed accordingly. Since the discovery of pheromones in moths nearly four decades ago, chemical communication in in- sects and mammals has led to a number of significant revelations, which we will explain in chapter 2. In short, animal pheromones incite behaviors ranging from “Let’s mate!” to “Watch out—I’m defending my territory and will become aggressive if you ignore my warning.” Learn about pheromone colognes for men |

How Do Pheromones Work?

Pheromones are chemicals that one individual emits to elicit responses in another individual of the same species. A pheromone provides species-specific chemical communication and elicits a neurophysiological response that results in an alteration of sensual behavior. Eventually, as the knowledge of the role of pheromones in the behaviors of animals and insects began to take shape, some scientists wondered whether humans might also communicate with pheromones.

Are pheromones the bottom-line creators of love and lust, the orchestrators of chemical magic between two people?

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