Pheromone News, March, 1999

Hello Everyone,

Hope you are all well.
This is the first ever “issue” of this newsletter, and I don’t know how much to try to pack in. The mailing is being done by the “List Bot”, which controls the signing up and off. I assume that when you receive this message it will include information on how you can leave the list, God forbid that you would ever want to do that, but if you have any problems with the “system” let me know.

As to the source of my “news”, I am signed up with two services that notify me of any new appearance of pheromone research or other news anywhere on either the web or any of the thousands of Usenet newsgroups. I also periodically run searches on the medical research web-sites to see if any new material pops up. I also get occasional hot tips from you, my “alert readers”. Thank you.

Sometimes the “news” will be not so new. If it doesn’t appear on the PRI site, and I find it interesting, than it’s news to me and I’ll print it, so don’t be afraid to send in an old article you come across. If it hasn’t found it’s way into the internet or a research journal, I probably haven’t read it and would be very happy for a copy, which I would then of course highlight in the following PRI newsletter (with your name if you like).

I’m also interested in printing personal experiences with pheromones, so if any of you have something to enter in that area please send it in. I can leave your name off if you like.

You can write to me at:

Bruce Boyd
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This issue’s “news”:

*Article on pheromones in the Washington Post
*Study on female reactions to male pheromones (Grammer)
*The National Geographic “Smell Survey”
*Various wacky quotes about pheromones from the press
*Alert reader pheromone story
The following are excerpts from an article which appeared in the Washington Post last year, “Sniffing Out Human pheromones, Scientists Find Proof of ‘Chemistry’ Between People”
by Rick Weiss

“Scientists have found long-sought proof that people release potent chemical signals that can have profound effects on other people. The research settles a 40-year debate about whether humans produce and can respond to pheromones, molecules that are usually airborne and odorless and which, in other species, influence such physiological processes and behaviors as mate choice, the recognition of one’s own family members, and the ability to smell the difference between friend and foe.

“Specifically, the new research shows that women’s underarm odors can alter the timing of other women’s reproductive cycles. It explains why women who live together often develop synchronous menstrual periods, and could spur development of “natural” fertility drugs or contraceptives.

“The finding may also lead to the discovery of compounds in sweat that could be incorporated into fragrances to alter body chemistry or mood.

“‘This is definitely going to make people sit up and take notice,’ said Charles J. Wysocki of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. Previous studies by scientists at Monell and elsewhere showed similar results but later were recognized as flawed. The new work, Wysocki said, seems to answer the question for good.

“‘The evidence has now become quite strong that humans produce and detect pheromones,’ agreed Edward W. Johnson of Idaho State University in Pocatello.”

pheromones have been documented in many species, ranging from insects to elephants, as sex attractants, kinship identifiers or alarm signals. In many species they are detected by a specialized organ inside the nose or mouth called the vomeronasal organ, or VNO.”

“There was ample evidence that human pheromones exist; babies show a clear preference for pieces of clothing that have been worn by their own mothers, for example, and research suggests that men and women choose their mates in part by sniffing out partners with compatible immune systems.”

“If pheromones have a big effect on human physiology, people may want to rethink their heavy use of soaps and perfumes: It may be, Buck speculated, that the constant washing away or covering up of these sweaty social signals account for some of the loneliness or depression in modern society.”

Grammer, K. 1993. 5-a-androst-16en-3a-on: A male pheromone? A brief report.
Ethology and Sociobiology. 14(3):201-207.

This study rated the responses of 289 women to the chemical 5-a-androst-16en-3a-on, a major component of male sweat, and presumed to work as a male sex pheromone . The women’s responses to the quality of the odor differed, depending on the stage of their menstrual cycle. During ovulation, women rated the odor as neither attractive nor unattractive, but during other phases of their menstrual cycles, women rated the scent as unattractive. An evolutionary consequence might be the facilitation of female choice during ovulation.
According to the results of the “1986 National Geographic Smell Survey”, women are more sensitive than men to the smell of androstenone (human pheromone contained in most commercial pheromone products).
Wacky excerpts from the press on pheromones

“Lowell Ponte, a former consultant on exotic weapons and a Readers Digest science writer, said in an interview that: ‘use of the recently discovered chemical Androstenone should be banned. Congress should pass a law making it a crime to use this chemical to influence voters by making politicians appear more lovable.'”
The San Francisco Chronicle

“The stuff attracts women like you wouldn’t believe”
Colorado Telegraph

pheromones influence human behavior in a subtle way. Women are attracted to the smell”
The Daily Telegraph

“The scent is likely to produce a state of sexual excitement or arousal” Men Only
Users’ Corner

*editor’s note-I took out a name, but otherwise this is the uncut version of what I received:

“The following report is true! I invited my friend, to my place to watch videos. We’re pretty close and have actually been intimate on a couple of occasions in the 15 years I’ve known her. Well, I decided to try an experiment. I put a few dabs of the concentrated pheromone directly on my T-shirt. Just after she arrived, I picked up the phone to order a pizza. While I was on the phone she walked up to me, wrapped an arm around my waist, and started sniffing my shirt!! She actually said, “Your T-shirt smells great!”. She looked like she was in heat! I was tempted to hang up the phone and make a pass at her right there! Well, we ate pizza, watched a video, and then started to get cuddly. It was late, but we had sex before she left! I’m dead serious! Coincidence or pheromone reaction? I did get a amorous looks today in the station–but I’m pretty striking to begin with.


I’ll keep you posted.” Name withheld,
Tokyo, Japan
Thank you all, and let’s keep those articles and experiences coming!

Bruce Boyd


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