Human Pheromones have been a point of conjecture within the science community for a very long time.
“Humans and other animals have an olfactory system designed to detect and discriminate between thousands of chemical compounds. For more than 50 years, scientists have been aware of the fact that certain insects and animals can release chemical compounds—often as oils or sweat—and that other creatures can detect and respond to these compounds, which allows for a form of silent, purely chemical communication.
Although the exact definition has been debated and redefined several times, pheromones are generally recognized as single or small sets of compounds that transmit signals between organisms of the same species. They are typically just one part of the larger potpourri of odorants emitted from an insect or animal, and some pheromones do not have a discernable scent:. says Are Human Pheromones Real? – Scientific American
They went on to say “But there is no evidence of a consistent and strong behavioral response to any human-produced chemical cue. “Maybe once upon a time we could react more viscerally,” says chemist George Preti of the Monell Chemical Senses Center. Today, however, our reactions seem to be much subtler—and harder to detect—than those of a silk moth. This subtlety has led researchers to propose another kind of chemical messenger, known as a “modulator” pheromone, that affects the mood or mental state of the recipient. In an example of this type, researchers at Stony Brook University found in 2009 that sniffing the sweat of first-time parachute jumpers could increase a person’s ability to discriminate between ambiguous emotional expressions. The implication is that chemicals in the jumper’s sweat might constitute an alarm signal, which puts the recipient on high alert and makes them more attentive to details.
Yet to demonstrate definitively that pheromones are at work, researchers need to point to the molecules responsible, which they have not yet done. To date (May 2014), scientists have collected evidence for possible pheromone effects but have not definitively identified a single human pheromone. ”
According to Elisa Vigna from the Stockholm Karolinska Institute our body perspiration emits molecules (or chemo-signals) which communicate our emotions.
www.psychreg.org reports “Researchers have found (March 2023) that exposure to human odours, specifically extracted from sweat, could potentially enhance treatment for certain mental health issues.
Elisa Vigna, the lead researcher from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, presented the pilot study’s findings at the European Congress of Psychiatry in Paris.
Vigna 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 seems to produce better results in treating social anxiety than can be achieved by mindfulness therapy alone”.
Social anxiety disorder is a prevalent mental health condition that causes excessive worry about engaging in social situations, affecting daily activities and interactions. The study collected sweat from volunteers and exposed patients to chemo-signals extracted from the samples during social anxiety treatment. Sweat samples were taken from volunteers who watched short, emotion-inducing movie clips. The study then involved 48 women with social anxiety, divided into three groups of 16, who underwent mindfulness therapy while exposed to different odours or clean air as a control.
Vigna explained: “We found that the women in the group exposed to sweat from people who had been watching funny or fearful movies, responded better to mindfulness therapy than those who hadn’t been exposed. We were a little surprised to find that the emotional state of the person producing the sweat didn’t differ in treatment outcomes – 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.”
The follow-up study will test if exposure to human presence causes this effect, using sweat from individuals watching emotionally neutral documentaries. Vigna continued: “We found that individuals who undertook one treatment session of mindfulness therapy together with being exposed to human body odours showed about 39% reduction in anxiety scores). For comparison, in the group receiving only mindfulness (the control group), we saw a 17% reduction in anxiety scores after one treatment session.
This proof-of-concept study’s results are considered preliminary, and a larger study is planned to confirm the findings. The researchers, in collaboration with the University of Pisa, are analyzing over 300 separate compounds in human sweat to identify and isolate the molecules responsible for the observed effects. This research is part of the EU-funded Horizon2020 project POTION (“Promoting Social Interaction through Emotional Body Odors”)
Dr Julian Beezhold, Secretary General of the European Psychiatric Association, welcomed the study but emphasized the need for independent replication of the findings. Dr Beezhold was not involved in the study. The European Congress of Psychiatry took place from 25th-28th March 2023, in Paris.
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