Your earwax could be a window into your mental health, researchers have suggested.
A study of 37 participants has shown a build-up of the stress hormone cortisol can be measured from the oily secretions around your ear canal.This could open the door to better ways of diagnosing psychiatric conditions including depression, according to lead author Dr Andres Herane-Vives, BBC reported.
He has also developed a new type of swab which won't damage the eardrum.
Cortisol is known as your "fight or flight" hormone. When it sends out alarm signals to the brain in response to stress, it can influence almost every system in the body, from the immune system to digestion and sleep.
But its role in disorders including anxiety and depression is not fully understood.
Dr Herane-Vives, a psychiatrist at University College London Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, wants to understand what raised or lowered levels of cortisol might indicate.