Smelly solution: Swedish researchers find sweat can help relieve anxiety
Mental Health
Mental Health

Smelly solution: Swedish researchers find sweat can help relieve anxiety

Just when you think you’ve heard it all…

They’ve released their results at a medical conference in Paris this week, and have started testing it on volunteers.

POTION Project in Stockholm reasons the smell activates brain pathways linked to emotions, offering a calming effect.

Speaking with Tova O'Brien on Monday morning, Principal investigator Professor Vladimir Carli said one of their theories is that when people are exposed to sweat, there is a feeling of "human presence" that can help to alleviate anxiety. 

"We exposed the healthy volunteers to happy movies or scary movies and after the exposure, we collected their sweat on some pads," Carli began.

"Then these pads were used with another group of people who were patients with social anxiety, and they were exposed to the body odour or the fear body odour… [and] there was a control group that was exposed just to clean air.

"What we've seen is that those who were exposed to the odours had a better response to treatment."

Carli said their study is based on the premise that body odours "carry information with them", which has been proved by other various research over the years.

"The study design was not complicated because it was based on already existing methodologies," Carli said.

"If we collect sweat from people who are in a state of fear and we actually expose this sweat to other people, we can elicit a state of fear in them.

"And more recently, something has been found similar with the people in the state of happiness - and our study was to test if this had some value in the treatment of anxiety. 

"What we found is that exposing people with social anxiety to body odour actually increases the effectiveness of treatment."

Listen to the full interview between Professor Vladimir Carli and Tova above.

You can also download the full interview on the Tova podcast, and listen on the go. 

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