Friday, February 15, 2008

Can Your Sense of Smell Affect Your Mood?

We live in a world where stimulation is mostly delivered through sight and sound. The sense of smell, which is a very important chemical sense, is often neglected. Not quite fair for a sense that's primarily responsible for our quality of life. Aside from controlling our cravings, triggering our memories and improving our sexual health, olfaction is believed to have a powerful effect on our moods.

When we smell something, we don't only perceive the sensation of the odor itself but we mainly associate it with experiences and emotions. Our olfactory receptors are directly connected to the limbic system, a group of sub cortical parts (the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala) of the brain that controls emotions. The usual reaction of our brain when detecting a stimuli is, it first processes information delivered to our other senses by cortical identification, which in turn triggers an emotional response.

But our sense of smell has a unique way of doing it - since it follows an opposite path. Smell sensations are relayed to the cerebral cortex only after the deepest parts of our brain have been stimulated. In other words, incoming aromas first trigger an emotional response, which is then followed by cognitive recognition. This is the reason why, for example, we first respond to the calming effect of chamomile long before we can identify the specific scent.

Several laboratory researches had been conducted to prove if, whether or not, scents do affect people's moods. Some common aromas that are said to have dramatic mood effects are the following:

*Romantic scents: jasmine, rose, sandalwood, gardenia.
*Energizers: citrus scents - lemon, lime, grapefruit, verbena, orange.
*Calming/Relaxing: lavender, bergamot, sandalwood, chamomile.
*Refreshing/Uplifting: eucalyptus, mint, pine, citrus scents

Discovering the impact of various scents to how people feel have led to the rapid development of aromatherapy industry. Aromatherapists all agree that aromatic stuff brings about positive effect since it help buyers manage their emotional lives.

Now that scents recently emerged as a mood influencing factor, we could then be able to use a variety of aromas to obtain the maximum benefits we need. Thus, ameliorating our sense of well being and improving the way we feel every day. A whiff of eucalyptus, lavender, or anything you desire, so long as it enhances your mood, it's all good. But although choosing the right scent can be a bit tough at times, just remember what Toucan Sam said " follow your nose ... it always knows."

More about sense of smell here ...

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