Recently, a study was introduced in Korea through “Million Mystery,” a documentary program aired on SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System). According to this study, a certain perfume was designed to act as a romantic relationship inducer. It was made by Winnifred Cutler, a Ph.D. of Athena Science Institute, and she released her study on the perfume which contains an added human pheromone. In Cutler’s experiment, she tested her pheromone-enhanced scent that she had created as a “love potion”, and an ordinary perfume on a number of participants. She asked the participators to use both products and to observe any changes in their relationships with their sweethearts. The results revealed that the participants who used the pheromone perfume tended to become more affectionate compared with those who just used the ordinary perfume.
As Cutler’s study shows, a variety of pheromone perfumes have been produced in the market with the intention of arousing more affectionate reactions of and from the users. Needless to say, demands for these types of perfumes have been increasing. However, there have been debates on whether pheromone fragrances are actually effective in luring romantic partners.
Communicating by Releasing Pheromones
Pheromones are a chemical produced by certain animals and insects. It causes arousal among other animals or insects leading to interact with one another. It is secreted outside the body, unlike most hormones which only have effects inside the body. The sense of smell is important to most animals because it is the primary way to sense pheromones. For this reason, the organ of smell of animals is much more developed than that of humans, and is a major tool for communication. Dogs mark their territories with their urine, which other dogs can detect, and cats show their anger the same way as dogs do; by releasing pheromones.
Furthermore, pheromones and sense of smell are the key elements for reproduction. A female moth releases her pheromones in order to attract a male moth who responds through its sense of smell. According to a study by Adolf Friedrich Johann Butenandt, a German biochemist, Bonbykol, a type of sexual pheromone, can seduce male moths located as far away as several kilometers from where the chemical is released.
The Mystery of Human Pheromones Is False
“A man who is sweating is always right even though he is on the ground or bed.” This saying is believed by many women in Korea. “I totally agree with the saying because I believe that the smell of sweat can act as a pheromone to attract someone. One of my friends however, told that it is not true,” said Kim Jae-lim, a Senior in the Division of Economics at Hanyang University(HYU). There have been heated discussions on whether humans have pheromones similar to those of animals or insects. Despite the claims, there have actually been no proven theories on the existence of human pheromones. Moreover, the belief that the smell of sweat can be a kind of aphrodisiac has been revealed to be due to the effect of an immune gene called Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC), not pheromones. MHC is a gene that helps immune system to response to provocations in a vertebrate’s immune system. MHC helps a person fall in love with someone whose immune gene is the most different from one’s own because of superior gene of their descendants.
In recent years, the argument there are no human pheromones or that human pheromones are not effective has been gaining weight. The reason why is because it is believed that the vomeronasal organ in humans, which senses pheromones, weakens over time and consequently, is eventually not capable of sensing pheromones. Bert Binas, a Professor of the Division of Molecular & Life Science at HYU said, “The vomeronasal organ is gradually degraded as humans grow old, and it exists only as a trace when humans are fully grown. Therefore, as a vital organ for sensing pheromones does not really exist in the human body, it is impossible for humans to sense pheromone as animals do.” Also, it is much more difficult for humans to sense pheromones because many people nowadays are covered with artificial scents of shampoo, soap, cosmetics, and perfumes.
Professor Binas further explained why humans cannot communicate through pheromones saying, “Since human beings have depended on the sense of sight, it is hard to explain that a person can be prompted to act mainly on the sense of smell as animals or insects do.”
The Pheromone Effect for Humans Is A Fantasy
Following the debate over pheromones and their effects on human beings, there have been heated discussions on whether pheromone perfumes for humans are effective or not. Lim Won-churl, a perfume making for one of Korea’s major cosmetic companies answered, “It is false to say that perfumes are made using actual human pheromones since using human biologic materials in cosmetics is prohibited. Instead, manufacturers can legally make them by using musk, which is the artificial pheromone of the musk deer, then market them, using the word “pheromone” in order to boost sales.”
With such revelations, Cutler’s experiment is called into question. The researcher had announced that she discovered the human pheromone by extracting the smell and bacteria from male sweat, but since she patented her pheromone perfume’s formula, no one can really know the real formula nor its specific components.
Perfume maker Lim explained that, “When people believe that pheromone perfume has an effect, buy the product, and believe it is working, this belief is due to the perfume creating a favorable impression, not because of any supposed pheromone. Perfumes made from animals like the scent of musk have a long duration and create a sexy and romantic atmosphere. Therefore, the effect of pheromone perfumes is not caused by the actual chemical for the creation of the pleasant atmosphere around the wearer, similar to other ordinary perfumes.”
Giving A Good Impression with Fragrances
In order to create a romantic and appealing atmosphere, these days many people look for perfumes with distinctive scents, and particularly those that claim to be pheromone perfumes. The companies that produce pheromone perfumes and promote their products as having human pheromone are adamant that they are effective in seducing someone. However, is it really true? Perfume maker Lim advises that a person who wants to be loved by giving a nice smell should make consistent attempts to find their own scent by testing various perfumes, rather than simply trusting unfounded claims of truly effective pheromone perfumes.