What Are Pheromones
Pheromones are chemicals which, when excreted or secreted, stimulate certain responses from the members of the similar species. These chemicals have the capability to act outside the body of the individual secreting them to affect the conduct of the receiving individual. There are different kinds of pheromones—alarm pheromone, sex pheromone, food trail pheromone, etc.—and each kind have different effects on the physiology or behavior of the receiver.
Studies of pheromones have been going on for decades. Many scientists have studied the subject including Joseph Lintner, Jean-Henri Fabre, and Adolph Butenandt. In fact, it was even studied by the famous ethologist, Karl Ritter von Frisch. Karl von Frisch assigned a number of different names to these chemicals calling some of them alarm substances. Pheromone was then defined as a chemical messenger which when transported out of the body results to behavioral changes or direct changes to the hormonal levels of the recipient.
It was Adolf Butenandt, a German biochemist who first recognized one such chemical. He called it bombykol—a substance secreted by the female silkworm used to attract male silkworms. Upon this discovery, scientists proposed a term to define chemical signals from individuals of similar species which stimulate certain innate behaviors. The word “pheromone” was coined by Martin Lüscher and Peter Karlson in 1959. It was derived from the Greek words pherein and hormone. Pherein literally means to transport, whereas hormone means to stimulate. Sometimes, these substances are also classified as ecto-hormones.
By 1979, it was already well-known that different species from the animal kingdom use pheromones to attract mates. A number of studies have already shown that females emanate attractants to lure in males from the same species. In fact, the clear understanding of during the late 1970s resulted to the use of these substances in trapping or diverting bugs and animals, in order to avoid damages to crops and other plants.
The results of the first study which proved the existence of pheromones in humans were released in 1986. The research headed by Dr. Winifred Cutler, at the university of Pennsylvania school of Medicine and the Monell Chemical Senses Center, indicated that humans communicate subtly with the use of sexual aromas.
According to the study, the health of women is affected by the scents excreted by males. It was observed that women who regular sex with men are unlikely to have problems with infertility and are more likely to have regular menstrual cycles. Furthermore, the study showed that women who have sex at least once a week tend to experience milder menopausal symptoms. The study concluded that the essence of men (pheromones) is necessary for a woman to have a healthy reproductive system.
Nowadays, there four recognized types of pheromones—the mother-infant recognition pheromone, the menstrual synchrony pheromone, the territorial marking animal pheromone, and the human sex attractant pheromone.
Pheromones play a big role in human relationships. Individuals who have increased levels of pheromones are found to be more appealing to the opposite sex. Genetically speaking, individuals who are genetically compatible smell good to each other. All in all, pheromones may be the key in finding the right mate—the perfect partner.