Sniffing other people's sweat can help treat social anxiety, study suggests

Sniffing other people's body odour may be able to help treat social anxiety, according to new research.

Armpit sweat was taken from volunteers who watched either happy or scary film clips - including Mr Bean's Holiday, Sister Act and The Grudge.

The samples were then used alongside more traditional mindfulness therapy to treat social anxiety.

The study revealed mindfulness was more effective when combined with sniffing the body odour.

The study involved 48 women who suffered from social anxiety, some of whom were exposed to clean air and others to body odour.

Patients who completed a mindfulness session while exposed to body odours saw a 39% reduction in social anxiety, while without body odour there was a 17% reduction in anxiety scores.

The researchers believe there is something about human sweat that affects the response to treatment - however said more work is needed to confirm the link.

They thought there might be different effects on treatment depending on the volunteers' emotions while perspiring - which is why they got them to watch films to elicit particular feelings.

However, the effect was the same whether the sweat-giver had been watching a comedy or horror.

Lead researcher Elisa Vigna from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden said the team was "a little surprised" by this.

"It may be that simply being exposed to the presence of someone else has this effect, but we need to confirm this," she said.

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

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.