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Sniffing other people’s sweat can help treat anxiety, study says

New research suggests that smelling the body odours of others may help with social anxiety.

Volunteers who watched happy or scary clips were asked to sweat their armpits. This included Mr Bean’s Holiday and Sister Act.

To treat social anxiety, the samples were combined with mindfulness therapy.

Study results showed that mindfulness is more effective when it’s combined with the ability to smell body odours.


48 women with social anxiety were included in the study. Some of them were exposed to clean air, while others were exposed to body odour.

A mindfulness session with body odours was shown to reduce social anxiety by 39%, while patients who were not exposed to it saw a 17% decrease in anxiety scores.

Researchers believe that human sweat may influence treatment response. However, more research is required to confirm this hypothesis.

They believed that treatment could have different effects depending on how perspiration is felt by volunteers. This is why they made them watch movies to trigger specific emotions.

The effect was the same regardless of whether the sweat-giver was watching horror or comedy.

Elisa Vigna, lead researcher at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said that the team was “a bit surprised” by the discovery.

She said, “It could be that being exposed to the presence or another person has this effect. But we need to confirm it.”

Social anxiety can be described as a mental illness condition in which people worry excessively about their social situations.

According to the NHS website, there are currently several treatments for this condition. These include cognitive behavioural therapy and guided self-help.


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