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Health: Love is ... a sniff of the right type of body odour

A biochemist believes he has cracked the chemistry of love. Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor, asks if smell can trigger human longing.

United States scientists believe they have uncovered a key mechanism in the attachment that mothers feel for their babies. Research on rats and mice shows that the act of giving birth releases chemicals in the brain that lay down a neural pathway - an electrical circuit in the brain - which establishes the loving bond.

The research, reported in New Scientist , suggests that for those mothers who reject their babies at birth, the absence of the loving bond could be remedied with a carefully timed dose of drugs. But the finding has also reawakened interest in the chemical triggers that draw males and females together.

Dr George Dodd, a biochemist and perfumer and former director of the Institute of Olfactory Research at the University of Warwick, says that pheromones - odiferous chemicals that represent a person's unique sexual signature - can be used to select compatible partners.

Dr Dodd, who runs a healing centre in the west of Scotland, claims to have bottles of human pheromones which he describes as the world's first scientifically tested love potion. "We judge people through the nose. If you want to appear as one of the warmer people at a party you can use these pheromones. It will enhance your chances," he told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

It is through the baby's bond with its mother that the power of pheromones is established, according to Dr Dodd. "When we are attracted to someone we unconsciously register their pheromones. They trigger ancient memories of being cuddled in the first few minutes of life." Dr Dodd believes that dating agencies would score higher success rates if they made use of pheromones. By asking applicants to rank their preferences for 12 different families of synthetic human pheromones, which can be sent by post on tear off strips, it would be possible to match compatible dates.

"The sexually compatible enjoy each other's body odour. There's an odour conversation between them. That is what is meant by sexual chemistry."