Human Pheromones Research Update

Perhaps you have heard about pheromones found in perfumes and creams that are supposedly going to attract mates. The question we are asking today is do human pheromones exist? And that human distinction is very important as we will soon learn.

A lot of people have done research into insect pheromones, and they thought maybe this could play a part in human attraction. The people who coined the term pheromone where Peter Carlson and Martin Luther and they came up with that word in 1959.


And there are two major types of pheromones. One is a primer pheromone which causes physiological changes like hormonal effects. And then there releaser pheromones which will produce rapid behavioral effects such as mating.

For example, in animals, pheromones give signals that tell each other, OK, there's food over here, let's go this way. Learn more at

Pheromone Studies

There was a study at the Worchester Foundation for Experimental Biology, and this was one of the initial studies trying to figure out whether or not they could identify pheromone compounds in mammals.

Pheromones are detected by the Vomeronasal organ which is actually independent of our main olfactory system.It's not like we are smelling. Instead, it's more like a sensory thing. The VNO is located above the roof of the mouth and it evolved to detect large molecules and molecules that are dissolved in liquids.

Human Pheromones

There are a series of studies done that indicate that some kind of pheromone-induced behavior is going on. In 1971, Martha McClintock, who's a University of Chicago psychologist, studied the menstrual synchrony of women. She assumed that there had to be some kind of hormonal influence. She found that women who were exposed to cotton pads soaked with underarm secretions would influence the menstrual cycle of the women who had the pads under their noses. Learn more at

We're obviously, we evolved from bacteria as having this response to chemicals. Chemicals tell us to do things that maybe we're not aware that we actually want to do. So we can't smell them and we don't seem to have a functioning receptor for them. However, research shows that we do experience effects and there are a couple of compounds that are maybe thought to be pheromones. It just hasn't been proved yet.

Why It's Hard To Study Pheromones

There are no shortcuts to finding a human pheromone. Until we have reliable bioassays, we won't get anywhere. And there's one last problem which is funding. Smell has never been treated as important as the other senses of vision and hearing. And the amount of money going to smell research and particularly smell and sex research is small.

So basically we don't think of smell has been that important and that means we don't think of sex and smell as being that important except in private.

If we're going to find a pheromone, I think the first one we will get is this one. It's a group in France who are working on the human pheromone and it's the same group who worked with the rabbit pheromone. Every baby learns its mother's smell and it can distinguish its mother by smell from any other mother. But it also responds to something universal that every mother produces which is a pheromone.

Searching for Pheromones

So it is my view is that this is the most promising way that we'll find a human pheromone and if one was found, that would give us the confidence to actually go out and look for all the others. The sad thing is lots of good scientists have, in my view, suddenly wasted many of their best years studying molecules that simply had no merit.

 I think that humans almost certainly do have pheromones, but we need to start again and there really are no shortcuts to finding a pheromone for real. Learn about the best pheromones at


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