Mammalian pheromones are not a myth

By: James V. Kohl | Published on: December 5, 2010

Pheromones a myth in mammals 2 Dec 2010:

James V. Kohl comments on this article (also posted to

5. I am reminded of a reported incident from:
Gibbons, D.L. (1989) Unusual case: Sex in the woods. Medical Aspects of Human Sexuality, 23,10(Oct):63.
“Cindy, who was menstruating… had gone alone to a portable commode hidden in a thicket to change her tampon, unaware that a young stag was nearby… Smelling her menstrual secretions, the deer became sexually aroused. He bounded through the trees and knocked Cindy to the ground. Then while prancing up and down with his forefoot on her shoulder, the sexually excited deer sprinkled her with semen.”
The existence of mammalian pheromones is no joking matter, but this incident does give new meaning to the phrase “terms of endeerment.” The involvement of mammalian pheromones in sexual arousal should not be underestimated, much less negated by Dr. Doty’s opinions about olfactory/pheromonal or visual appeal.
4. RE: synchronous cycles. My first presentation to a scientific congress was Luteinizing Hormone (LH) the link between sex and the sense of smell? The question mark indicated that I was speculating (in 1992). Since then both the androstenol-containing axillary secretions of men, and androstenol itself have been shown to increase levels of LH, which is a well-known hormonal indicator of reproductive fitness. LH levels also are associated with properly timed reproductive sexual behavior [e.g., estrus or menstrual cycle phase] in mammals. Let me reiterate: Pheromones-hormones-behavior, how is it that an olfactory researcher missed this? And how is it that others who are supposedly in the know about such things have written favorable reviews of Doty’s book?
[    ] indicates addition after proof reading.  [Does this mean that the people who wrote favorable reviews of “The Scent of Eros: Mysteries of Odor in Human Sexuality” were confused about how mammalian pheromones work, or is Doty confused and confusing others?]
3. With one exception [i.e., JV Kohl], no one involved in marketing products that claim to contain human pheromones has shown that the disclosed active ingredients influence the behavior of the opposite sex. Like Dr. Doty, the marketers cannot seem to understand the levels of complexity that are involved in chemical communication among species. And species-specificity of the claimed human pheromone is a requirement. The urinous-smelling androstenone of boars is not going to have a positive effect on human females, yet this is precisely what many marketers claim. Here are two links for people who want more details. However, these journal publications are not meant to be easy reading for the masses. They are truthful award-winning reviews of the complexity involved in attempting to accurately conceptualize mammalian, including human pheromones (which Doty somehow must have missed while researching his book).
2. https://www.ncbi.n…20646176
The link is to an article on how pheromones work in a mammal, the goat. They influence an evolved neurophysiological mechanism that is common among mammals. They directly alter the “biological core” of mammalian reproduction, which just so happens to be linked to behavior. Pheromones-hormones-behavior: how is it that an olfactory researcher missed this?
1. All animals have genes and are epigenetically influenced by their social environment. Animal models explain the development of human behavior, and the animal models include insects. In social insects, social odors are epigenetic influences that allow for the development of epigenetically distinct castes (i.e., with the same genes). In mammals, the genome allows for the development of even more epigenetically influenced diversity in physiological, morphological, and behavioral differences. The influence of social odors (e.g., pheromones) on the human genome is not much different than the influence of food odors. Both are epigenetic influences that drive the molecular machineries of all organisms during their development. Dr. Doty ignores any developmental systems psychobiological approach and wants evidence that the pheromones of mammalian pheromones elicit responses that he qualifies. No wonder he can’t find evidence of mammalian pheromones.

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