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The Power Of Smell

Being an Aromatherapist smell is very important to me and part of my daily life.

Q: How do we smell?

A: The faculty or power of perceiving odours or scents by means of the organs in the nose.

We detect a smell, or Aroma, by inhaling air that contains odour molecules which bind to the receptors inside the nose, then relaying messages to the brain.

*Dogs are often used to detect smells – drugs, explosives, people. Their amazing ability to this so successfully can be attributed to the near on 300m olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to 6m in ours! Also, the part of their brain devoted to analysing smells is 40 times greater than ours.

Have you ever had a dog respond to your mood? When feeling fear, anxiety or even sadness, they can smell the adrenaline and the body’s chemicals that come off the skin’s surface due to increased heart rate and blood flow. So, you might fool your friends with a smile but not your doggy pal.

I find it quite amazing that how we perceive a smell can change. Whilst working with clients there will be Essential Oils that will become their ‘favourites’, however there will be times when it just doesn’t appeal. I’ve noticed this more often with the Essential Oils that I use for hormonal balance. One month the client will love it, then the next they won’t. I can only assume in these cases that the fluctuating hormones may trigger something within the brain receiving the aroma signals.

Given that our hormonal system is greatly affected by stress, it would explain why this also happens to those under extra pressure.

Smell is a wonderful sense, I cannot imagine not being able to smell flowers, Essential Oils or the scent of my favourite people. Some aromas can make us wish we hadn’t smelt them – but even then, they can invoke a happy memory. I’m a farmer’s daughter and the smell of muck spreading in the Autumn can be quite strong in the air (I live in a rural area), but for me it brings back wonderful childhood thoughts.

To finish, a story told by my Aromatherapy teacher. She spent time helping at The Lighthouse clinic, mainly helping young men who had been diagnosed with Aids. There was one lad, early twenties, who she was struggling to reach. He was very closed, wouldn’t speak, although he turned up each week for his massage. He arrived as usual and on entering the room he smiled and said, “that reminds me of my mum”. Her previous client had had Nutmeg Essential Oil in his blend, and this had brought back happy memories of this lads’ mum making rice pudding. That was a turning point for him.