National

Shiseido experiment finds humans produce 'stress smell' similar to onions

Kyodo

Japanese cosmetics maker Shiseido Co. has found that human bodies produce a distinctive odor that is similar to that of an onion or a long onion when they come under stress.

Shiseido said early this month it plans to use the discovery to develop new personal care products designed to eliminate odors, with the hope of commercializing them around next spring.

To reproduce the state of stress resulting from tense situations in order to confirm the interesting finding, 40 women taking part in the experiment were interviewed for 20 minutes by someone they had never met before.

Shiseido researchers then collected samples of gas from close to the skin of the participants and analyzed them. It was later confirmed that the samples included a sulfur compound-like odor.

The “stress smell” is understood to stem from two compounds, allyl mercaptan and dimethyl trisulfide, according to Shiseido, which dubbed the combination ST Thiodimethane.

The Tokyo-based company has gained know-how from developing deodorants and other anti-odor products. In 1999, it discovered a substance called nonenal that can cause an odor in middle-aged and elderly people.

In Japan, some people are very sensitive about body odors.

So-called smell harassment has recently joined a list of other office complaints such as power harassment and sexual harassment in the country.