Does Chewing Gum Relieve Anxiety?

Chewing is a necessary part of tooth health. Evidence from animals suggests that poor oral health, including tooth loss, is associated with declines in mental faculties. Evidence also suggests that in animals, biting during stress reduced the release of the catecholamine stress hormones during restraint. In animals at least, chewing and biting my have anti-stress and pro-cognitive effects. The effects of chewing on anxiety levels in humans has been investigated. In one study, researchers asked human volunteers to chew gum twice a day for at least 5 minutes, over fourteen days. The results of the study showed that the subjects chewing gum had significant reductions in anxiety and fatigue, and significant improvements in mood compared to a control group who consumed a mint flavoured paste with a similar taste to the gum. Therefore the act of chewing may confer anxiolytic effects in humans. One suggestion is that the anxiolytic effect is provided by an anti-stress effect of chewing, as has been evidence in animals previously.

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The ingredients of the gum used in this study were maltitol, syrup, calcium casein peptone-calcium phosphate, gum base, xylitol, aspartame, L-phenylalanine, acesulfame potassium, natural and artificial flavouring, gelatin, gum arabic, mannitol, candelilla wax, and soy lecithin. The ingredients of the mint paste used as a control were lemon juice powder, parsley seed oil, sorbitol, aspartame, L-phenylalanine, acesulfame potassium, flavouring, silicon dioxide fine powder, sucrose ester, gardenia yellow and green tea extract.

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Sasaki-Otomaru, A., Sakuma, Y., Mochizuki, Y., Ishida, S., Kanoya, Y. and Sato, C. 2011. Effect of regular gum chewing on levels of anxiety, mood, and fatigue in healthy young adults. Clinical Practice and Epidemiology in Mental Health: CP & EMH, 7, 133

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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