London/IBNS: A study has revealed that sniffing other people’s body odour might be useful in therapy for social anxiety.
The study was conducted by Swedish researchers who have started tests with volunteers.
The scientists have been using armpit sweat in their experiments, reports BBC.
Their hunch is that the smell activates brain pathways linked to emotions, offering a calming effect – but it is far too soon to say if they are right, the British media reported.
The Swedish researchers suggest that human body odour might communicate our emotional state – happy or anxious, for instance – and even elicit similar responses in others who smell it.
As part of the experiment, the researchers asked volunteers to donate armpit sweat from when they were watching either a scary movie or a happy one.
Next, 48 women with social anxiety agreed to sniff some of these samples, alongside receiving a more conventional therapy called mindfulness, where people are encouraged to focus on the here and now rather than replaying negative thoughts, reports BBC.
Some of the women were given genuine body odour to sniff, while others – the control group – were given clean air instead.
Those who were exposed to the sweat appeared to do better with the therapy.
Lead researcher Elisa Vigna, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, told BBC: “Sweat produced while someone was happy had the same effect as someone who had been scared by a movie clip. So there may be something about human chemo-signals in sweat generally which affects the response to treatment.
“It may be that simply being exposed to the presence of someone else has this effect, but we need to confirm this. In fact, that is what we are testing now in a follow-up study with a similar design, but where we are also including sweat from individuals watching emotionally neutral documentaries.”