Popping an anti-stress pill can help you scale new heights

London: Are you scared of high places? Fret not. Just pop an anti-stress pill, for a new study says that it can help you scale new heights by reducing your fear.

Researchers at Basel University in Switzerland have carried out the study and found that giving a tablet of stress hormone cortisol can help people cure themselves of acrophobia — a fear of high places.

The hormone, which is part of the body`s "fight or flight" reaction to danger, appears to open the brain up to being reprogrammed and to permanently remove anxieties, `The Daily Telegraph` reported.

Tests on 40 patients with acrophobia found those given cortisol in combination with behavioural therapy dramatically reduced their aversion.

The researchers said their findings, published in the `Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences` journal, could lead to the development of effective treatments for a host of anxiety disorders.

Half the participants were given the drug and the others a placebo an hour before being subjected to a virtual- reality outdoor elevator ride.

Their fear was measured three to five days and one month after the last exposure session through an established acrophobia questionnaire and by sensors that picked up their sweat known as skin conductance examinations.

Compared with those given the dummy pill participants who took cortisol suffered significantly less anxiety and a smaller increase in skin conductance during follow-up. The effect also lasted longer and still apparent a month later.