Our senses play a crucial role in how we experience and understand the world around us.
While sight is often considered the most dominant and relied upon sense, our sense of smell, although often overlooked, has a profound impact on our experiences and can indeed enhance our overall perception of the world. Here are a few reasons why our sense of smell is important and often underrated:
Emotional Impact: Our sense of smell is closely linked to our emotions and memories. Certain scents can trigger powerful emotional responses and bring back vivid memories from the past. This is why smells are often associated with nostalgia and can instantly transport us to a different time or place.
Flavor Perception: Much of what we perceive as taste actually comes from our sense of smell. When we eat, molecules from the food travel through the back of our throat to the olfactory receptors in our nose, contributing significantly to the flavor experience. This is why a stuffy nose can drastically affect our ability to taste food.
Safety and Warning: Our sense of smell can serve as a warning system. We can detect the smell of spoiled food, dangerous chemicals, or smoke, alerting us to potential hazards and helping us make safer decisions.
Aesthetic Pleasure: Pleasant scents can enhance our overall enjoyment of an environment or experience. Whether it's the aroma of freshly baked bread, blooming flowers, or a scented candle, pleasing smells can contribute to a more enjoyable atmosphere.
Social and Cultural Significance: Smell plays a role in cultural rituals, ceremonies, and even personal interactions. Perfumes and colognes are used for personal grooming and can be a form of self-expression. Different cultures also have specific scents associated with traditions and practices.
Health and Well-being: Certain scents, such as those in aromatherapy, are believed to have therapeutic effects. Essential oils and other natural fragrances are used to promote relaxation, reduce stress, and alleviate various physical and mental ailments.
One of the most well-studied areas of aroma research is the effect of smell on emotions and mood. For example, there is convincing evidence demonstrating that simply inhaling the aroma of an essential oil is effective for calming nervous or anxious feelings in a variety of settings.
The smell receptors located on the upper surface of the nasal cavity make direct links with the limbic system of the brain, an area that governs the body’s emotional responses.
Intriguing new research has also helped us recognise that the benefits of aroma extend far beyond just emotional regulation.
In addition to influencing the limbic region of the brain, olfactory centres are also intricately linked with the hypothalamus, an area of the brain nicknamed the “visceral control centre” because it controls physiological functions throughout the body. The hypothalamus exerts its powerful influence by interacting directly with the pituitary gland, or “master gland,” a small gland located in the brain. The pituitary gland secretes hormones involved in the regulation of blood pressure, hunger and thirst signals, thyroid function, sleep cycles, production of hormones, and memory, among other things.
Because of the direct link of the olfactory system to this area of the brain, aroma is capable of interacting directly with the hypothalamus, influencing neurochemistry throughout the body, and, in turn, potentiating powerful health outcomes.
Did you know: smell takes less than 60 seconds to register in the brain, as it is the sensory system that makes the most direct contact with memory and emotions?!
Essential Oils & Aromatherapy
There are many acceptable ways to use Essential Oils for their aromatic properties. One method is to diffuse the oil into the air. Not only does diffusion make the oil accessible to the body, but research indicates that there are also air purification benefits when diffusing oils.
When diffusing oils, use of cold air or hydro-diffusion is best because burning or heating Essential Oils can alter their delicate chemistry. If a diffuser is not available, simply dropping Oils into the palm of the hand and then cupping around the nose and breathing deeply is a convenient method for using Oils at any time, in any situation.
What aroma triggers a good memory for you?
Did you know: a New York University study found the only way to release fear from the amygdala(part of the limbic system) is through smell.
I am absolutely loving Young Livings Stress Away & Valor at the moment, two beautiful blends designed to support our emotions. Stress away has literally melted stress away for me, while Valor invokes strength and courage for me to face my busy days juggling family and work chaos. Valor was formulated based on historical writings about Roman soldiers who were said to apply plant extracts and botanticals to instill feelings of courage and confidence before going into battle - what a reassuring blend she is!
Our sense of smell is indeed an underrated sense that significantly contributes to our experiences and overall well-being. Exploring and appreciating the world through our sense of smell can lead to a deeper and more enriching understanding of the environment around us.