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A group of Japanese researchers have shown that chewing gum for over 10 minutes can reduce stress, adding to a growing body of science linking gum chewing to relieve stress.

The study in the Journal of Prosthodontic Research by Tasaka et al. found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol decreased after prolonged gum chewing. The study showed that chewing time affects the reaction of the endocrine system to mental stress, and that continuous chewing for more than 10 minutes is effective in decreasing levels of stress hormones.

In the study, 14 healthy men were asked to perform arithmetic calculation’s for 30 minutes to build up stress followed by chewing gum for 0, 5, 10, or 15 minutes. Each participant was assigned all chewing conditions, each on different days.

Researchers collected saliva samples from participants before and after the stress-loading mental arithmetic tasks and also measured cortisol levels. Each experiment was completed at 25 minutes after stress loading. For example, under the 0-minute chewing condition there was a 25-mintue rest period after stress loading and for the 15-mintue chewing condition there was 10-minutes of rest before salivary samples were taken.

The results of the study showed a significant decrease in cortisol levels at 15 minutes of chewing compared to 5 minutes. This suggests that 15-min chewing elicits a greater reduction in stress than 5-min chewing. This result also suggests that the amount of muscle workload used when chewing induces a reduction in stress. Authors of the study claim that there may be a relation between the number of chewing strokes and stress reduction.

This research builds on earlier studies linking chewing gum to reduced stress.  Other recent studies published in Stress and Health and Appetite  have also shown the effects of chewing gum on lowering levels of stress.   Chewing gum has some benefits over other stress-reduction techniques. It is inexpensive, easily available and may help to calm your nerves!