Why Are Odors and Fragrances So Important? – Science Times
October 20, 2020 - Body Fragrance
The sense of smell is part of the human survival instinct and greatly impacts some of our behaviors. Choosing which fragrances we prefer for personal use and the odors we are attracted to also reveal a lot about our instincts.
Theresa Molnar from the Sense of Smell Institute of the Fragrance Foundations explained that scents can affect the mood positively, reduce stress, and enhance sleep. Fragrances can also enhance self-confidence, physical performance, and cognition. It is no wonder that the essential oil industry has been booming in recent years.
Psychologist Dr. Caroline Allen from Newcastle Univerisity said that the fragrance industry existed since the Ancient Greek civilizations where people extracted oils from plants. Odors give us important information such as the dangers of contaminated food, communicable diseases, and the emotion of others.
In one of her studies, Dr. Allen analyzed the impact that fragrance has on attraction and mating. The behavior of real couples responding to body odor as compared to randomly paired individuals. Results showed that people might prefer for their partner to have a dissimilar body odor.
In another study, Dr. Allen worked alongside perfumers and fragrance evaluators to distinguish odors associated with males versus females. The study gave insight into how fragrances are categorized and which ingredients complement various body odor types.
According to Rachel Herz, the author of “The Scent of Desire,” an odor becomes significant to an individual when it becomes connected to something with meaning. Certain encounters trigger nerve connections that associate the sense of smell with specific emotions.
Smell and emotions come from the same network in the brain called the limbic system. The limbic system is also connected to the hippocampus where new memories are formed. The sense of smell is the only sense that has this kind of deep access, explained Herz. This is why some people may associate the smell of cinnamon with Christmas or a certain dish with childhood memories.
The fragrance of others can also stimulate powerful memories. For example, smelling the clothing or perfume of someone can remind us of how we feel about that person stronger than looking at their photograph.
What the Sense of Smell Can Indicate
The sense of smell is also an indicator of mental health. For example, the loss of smell, or anosmia, is often associated with depression.
The gradual loss of smell is also associated with diseases such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. This symptom was also an important indicator of diagnosing Covid-19 during the pandemic.
Neuropsychiatrist Christian Kohler said that in theory, the sense of smell is associated with neurological well-being. For example, sweet odors help reduce pain and promote calm, said psychologist John Prescott.
This may be the reason why mint, lavender, and other floral smells are some of the most popular essential oils. Fragrances that help people relax through aromatherapy are helpful especially when people lack the time for meditation.
Check out more news and information on the Sense of Smell in Science Times.