How Sniffing Sweat Could Be Helping People’s Mental Health


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According to a team of Swedish researchers and presumably some other folks I’d prefer not to meet, inhaling someone else’s sweat could be a helpful approach to improve your mental health.

To explore the hypothesis that the fragrance can open up emotional brain circuits that have a soothing effect, scientists have been performing studies on people’s armpit sweat.

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Be aware that these studies are still in their very early phases and haven’t reached a conclusion before you start bottling up your own supply and trying to sell it as a wellness product.

It sounds like they’ve made some kind of progress because, according to the BBC, some of the team’s initial findings will be presented at a medical conference in Paris this week.

Anything that can improve people’s mental health is worthwhile researching, but before I started sniffing other people’s armpits to feel better, I would want to wait for a few more studies and some more convincing evidence. Nevertheless, maybe that’s just me.

One group of Swedish researchers is exploring the idea that a person’s sweat may help convey their emotional state, and they wonder if others sniffing it can help lift their spirits.

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There are still many experiments to run before we can start collecting happy people’s sweat, but the researchers have been moving in that direction.

After watching either a happy or a scary movie, participants were first asked to donate the sweat from their armpits.

Following that, 48 socially anxious ladies were admitted who were willing to sniff the sweaty samples in addition to receiving some more traditional types of therapy in case the whole sniffing sweat thing didn’t work out.

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While some women experienced the “placebo effect” by inhaling fresh air, some of the women were given genuine samples of people’s sweat to huff.

According to the findings, the experiment was somewhat successful because socially anxious women who inhaled real human sweat responded better to therapy.

Lead researcher Elisa Vigna of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm said that additional sweat-related tests would be conducted in the future.

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She said: “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.”