Scientists develop home-testing kit that measures stress hormones
(Natural News) Stress can either be a person’s boon or his bane, depending on the situation. In certain situations, it can motivate people, but those with chronic levels of stress are more likely to develop health problems, including heart disease and even mental disorders. To combat its adverse effects, researchers have developed a simple test to help measure and monitor stress levels.
The test, a brainchild of researchers from the University of Cincinnati, uses a biosensor that measures stress hormones through sweat, blood and urine. In their preliminary paper, which the researchers published in the American Chemical Society Sensors, they highlighted the device’s potential, in particular, for home application. The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air Force Research Lab sponsored the study.
“I wanted something that’s simple and easy to interpret,” said Andrew Steckl, a co-author of the study and a professor of electrical engineering at UC. “This may not give you all the information, but it tells you whether you need a professional to take over.”
Taking control of stress before it controls you
For most people, stress is deeply ingrained in daily life. While healthy levels of stress can help a person perform better in school or work, being subjected to elevated levels of stress can lead to bad habits like sleep deprivation and overeating. Over time, chronic stress can lead to the development of more serious conditions, like atherosclerosis. For UC researcher Prajokta Ray, who is also the study’s first author, the primary motivation behind the study was to develop a test that was cheap, effective, and affordable.
The device, which is currently in its development phase, uses UV spectroscopy to measure stress-related hormones and neurotransmitters. These compounds include cortisol – better known as the stress hormone, serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine and neuropeptide. The device detects their concentrations in various bodily fluids.
“You’re not going to replace a full-panel laboratory blood test. That’s not the intent,” Steckl noted. “But if you’re able to do the test at home because you’re not feeling well and want to know where you stand, this will tell whether your condition has changed a little or a lot.”