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Fresh Grass

Smell of fresh grass can relieve stress

Mowing the lawn can help you beat stress, a new study has suggested.

Researchers have found that a chemical released by freshly mowed grass can help people relax and make them cheerful, thus slowing down the decline in mental ability with age.

Scientists claim the scent released from the grass works directly on the brain, specially affecting the emotional and memory parts called the amygdala and the hippocampus.

After seven years of rigorous research, scientists now claim to have made a perfume, the "eau de mow" which "smells like a freshly-cut lawn", and helps relieve stress and enhance memory.

Dr Nick Lavidis, a neuroscientist at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, developed the idea of the perfume, named Serenascent, after he trekked a US forest twenty years ago.

The Telegraph quoted him as saying: "Three days in Yosemite National Park felt like a three-month holiday.

"I didn't realise at the time that it was the actual combination of feel-good chemicals released by the pine trees, the lush vegetation and the cut grass that made me feel so relaxed.

"Years later my neighbour commented on the wonderful smell of cut grass after I had mowed the lawn and it all started to click into place."

Dr Lavidis said the grass'' smell directly affected the brain's emotional and memory parts.

He said: "These two areas are responsible for the flight or fight response and the endocrine system, which controls the releasing of stress hormones like corticosteroids.

"The new spray appears to regulate these areas."

"There are two types of stress. The first is when you are about to perform something or you know you are going to have to do something well. That's acute stress and can be a good form of stress.

"Bad stress is chronic stress and is associated with an increase in blood pressure, forgetfulness and a weakening of the immune system."

Chronic stress can actually damage the hippocampus in the brain, which can lead to memory loss.

Students of the Australian project found animals exposed to Serenascent had little or no damage to the hippocampus.

The scent is believed to have the "pleasant aroma of a freshly-cut lawn or a walk through a lush forest".

Dr Lavidis, who worked with pharmacologist Professor Rosemary Einstein, said: "It can be used as a room spray or a personal spray on bed linen, a handkerchief or clothing. Down the track we will look at incorporating the feel good chemicals into other products."