A pheromone is a chemical that an animal produces which changes the behavior of another animal of the same species.
Some describe pheromones as behavior-altering agents. Many people do not know that pheromones trigger other behaviors in the animal of the same species, apart from sexual behavior.
Hormones usually work internally, and they only have a direct effect on the individual that is secreting them.
Pheromones, unlike most other hormones, are ectohormones. They are secreted outside the body, and they influence the behavior of another individual.
This article will take a brief look at pheromones and whether they can be found in humans.
Fasts facts about pheromones
Pheromones are similar to hormones but work outside of the body.
They induce activity in other individuals, such as sexual arousal.
Most insects use pheromones to communicate.
Some chemicals have been investigated for pheromone actions in humans but evidence is weak.
Many pheromone products can be purchased online, but research suggests that these are ineffective.
There are four types of pheromone: releaser, primer, signaler and modulator.
Do pheromones play a role in human attraction?
Animals secrete pheromones to trigger many types of behaviors, including:
raising an alarm
signaling a food trail
triggering sexual arousal
tell other female insects to lay their eggs elsewhere
delineating a territory
bond between mother and offspring
warning another animal to back off
It is believed that the first pheromone, bombykol, was identified in 1959. Bombykol is secreted by female moths and is designed to attract males. The pheromone signal can travel enormous distances, even at low concentrations.
Experts say that the pheromone system of insects is much easier to understand than that of mammals, which do not have simple stereotyped insect behavior.
It is believed that mammals detect pheromones through an organ in the nose called the vomeronasal organ (VNO), or Jacobson’s organ. This connects to the hypothalamus in the brain.
The VNO in humans consists of just pits that probably do not do anything. Interestingly the VNO is clearly present in the fetus but atrophies before birth. If humans do respond to hormones, most likely they use their normal olfactory system.
Pheromones are commonly used in insect control. They can be used as bait to attract males into a trap, prevent them from mating, or to disorient them.
According to thousands of websites that promise sexual conquests if you buy their pills, human pheromones exist. However, most proper, well-controlled scientific studies have failed to show any compelling evidence.
Gustav Jäger (1832-1917), a German doctor and hygienist is thought to be the first scientist to put forward the idea of human pheromones, which he called anthropines.
Jäger said that they were lipophilic compounds associated with skin and follicles that mark the individual signature of human odors. Lipophilic compounds are those that tend to combine with, or are capable of dissolving in lipids, or fats.