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Other people’s body odour can help treat social anxiety: study

March 26, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Odours from other people’s sweat may be able to help treat social anxiety, new research suggests.

The study found that social anxiety was reduced when people underwent mindfulness therapy while exposed to what is commonly referred to as body odour taken from the underarm sweat from volunteers.

Social anxiety is a mental health condition where people worry excessively about participating in social situations.

Lead researcher Elisa Vigna, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, said: “Our state of mind causes us to produce molecules (or chemo-signals) in sweat which communicate our emotional state and produce corresponding responses in the receivers.

“The results of our preliminary study show that combining these chemo-signals with mindfulness therapy seem to produce better results in treating social anxiety than can be achieved by mindfulness therapy alone”.

Having social anxiety can affect interactions, for example within the workplace or relationships, but also in everyday situations such as shopping or holidays.

This could result in people worrying excessively about contact with others.

According to the NHS website there are currently a number of treatments available for the condition, including cognitive behavioural therapy, guided self-help and antidepressant medicines.

The study involved collecting sweat from volunteers, and then exposing patients to chemo-signals (body odour) extracted from these sweat samples, while they were being treated for social anxiety. The samples were collected from people who were watching short clips from movies that had been chosen to elicit particular emotional states such as fear or happiness.