Posted April 10, 2017
Familiar smells, such as coffee, bacon, cookies, or perfume, can trigger memories, affect moods or soothe stress and worries. Aromas also can affect your health and well-being. Here are four ways your sense of smell works as provided by the National Institutes of Health.
1. Deciphering odors
Every time you take a breath, you detect smells. People and substances around you give off scent molecules that connect with sensory cells inside your nose. Odor receptors inside the cells connect with scent molecules causing the brain to interpret specific scents.
Each person has different combinations of odor-detecting cells in the nose and different sensitivities to smells. Scientists believe humans can distinguish between 10,000 to 100 billion odors. This helps distinguish good smells from bad smells, so you can enjoy the good and act against the bad.
2. Soothing emotions
Experts believe certain smells can soothe people’s emotions through aromatherapy. Researchers have created essential oils of flowers and plants that trigger responses in the brain:
- Promote confidence – Frankincense, Patchouli, Jasmine and Sandalwood.
- Relieve depression – Sage, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon, Orange, Rose Geranium and Sandalwood.
- Ease anger – Chamomile, Jasmine, Patchouli and Rose.
- Reduce anxiety – Cedarwood, Cypress, Frankincense, Lavender, Orange, Peach, Rose and Violet Leaf.
- Increase memory – Jasmine, Lavender, Lemon and Rosemary.
- Alleviate stress – Chamomile, Cinnamon, Cloves, Frankincense, Lavender, Lemon, Orange, Rose, Sandalwood and Violet.
3. Enhancing taste
When eating, food releases aromas that travel into the nose. The taste sense has five categories: salty, sweet, bitter, sour or savory. However, when your nose smells food, it sends messages to the brain where the information is combined with taste receptors, enhancing the experience. That’s why when something smells bad, we close our nostrils to reduce the odor.
4. Smelling danger
Medications, allergies, viruses or injuries can lead to temporary loss of smell, but smoking and the natural aging process can cause permanent changes. Doctors warn that people who cannot notice smells, such as natural gas, should install an alarm to alert them. Carbon monoxide and smoke alarms can save your life as well.