How Different Scents Affect Different Parts of the Body

Posted on June 01 2016

Smell is powerful. From the mouthwatering aroma of freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies to the nose-numbing stink of an angry or scared skunk, smells can make or break the day. And, in addition to our clear physical reactions, scents also can elicit deeply rooted memories and strongly affect our moods. Have you ever noticed how when you have a cold, nothing tastes exactly right? Smell is, in fact, linked to taste. They both involve chemical reactions detected by chemoreceptors (sensory cells). When a smell, or odorant, stimulates the chemoreceptors in the nose, electrical impulses are passed along to the brain. Our brains then interpret the patterns in the electrical activity that we perceive as smells. These smells are linked to the limbic system, which includes the amygdala and the hippocampus (parts of the brain linked to mood and memory). Certain smells seem to be consistently related to calming moods or stress relief or distractions. And others are uniquely associated with positive or negative memories. Scientific studies (National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy) suggest scents such as sage, lavender, and orange may help people relax and decrease anxiety. Other studies suggest that scents like cinnamon and peppermint can aid in improving focus and relieving stress.

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