The Power Of Olfactory Senses

How much can a particular smell make us emotional?

By Elena Faggiana
September 22, 2020

The camphor in the old wardrobes in our grandparents’ house, the smell of the rain during and after the storm, the orange and the cinnamon that reminds us so much about Christmas time, and the freshness of the mint inside our drinks during the hottest days of summer. For me, the olfactory sense is the most powerful way to feel.
During my several trips in India, I met so many people, I’ve seen colors, I’ve crossed roads and different lands heard so many languages and admired stunning sunrises and sunsets that left me speechless. But what I have really carried home with me, what has really lasted over time, and what made me want to come back, again and again, were smells. Because smell is something that can get stuck to your nose, in your brain, and deep inside you, for years, crystal clear.

But HOW can a smell be so powerful?
Smell is actually made of chemical molecules. When these molecules reach specific receptors, the information can be transmitted directly to our brain, thus giving us the emotion. For this reason, the olfactory sense has been defined as the perfect sense.
It is the only sense which does involve any interference between molecule-receptor link and information to the brain. We breathe in the molecule, the molecule enters in contact with small parts inside our nose, and what happens is exactly like when a key opens a door: with an extraordinary speed the signal is already in our brain. Specifically, it is the limbic system the part of our brain involved with smell. It is the most ancient part of the brain, the part that developed the earliest and that can control our emotional behaviors, endocrine functions, and our instincts.
During this entire process, there is no involvement of the cerebral cortex that would otherwise be a sort of filter. The aromatic molecule travels in our body unfiltered and reaches a place that is directly affecting our emotions, unconsciously. And in some way, the molecule itself influences consciousness. The limbic system is where we store our emotions, which can be reactivated.

Aromatherapy with its use of essential oils can deeply influence our behavior, our wellness, our temper, how we feel at any moment, and our inner strength.
Some examples?

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender has a lot of useful properties recognized in naturopathy. Antibacterial activities, it is in fact used in a lot of products for cleaning the house. Lavender essential oil also has relaxing properties, which can help improve the quality of the sleep and in reducing insomnia.

Photo by rocknwool on Unsplash

Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)
This tree is well known for its flowers, from which we extract its’ essential oil.Traditionally, this Ylang Ylang essential oil is used for relaxing the body and mind, and for maintaining balance.There is some evidence that it also helps reduce anxiety and chronic stress. It can help reduce tiredness and, in some cases, panic attacks as well.

Photo de Maya A. P en Pixabay 

Lemon (Citrus limon)
It is a small tree with an Asian origin, and its fruits contain the essential oil.
It has an action on vascular retention helping the reduction of cellulite and venous stasis. Lemon essential oil is useful in improving the ability of communication. It allows for a better capacity for concentration and mental productivity.

Photo by eggbank on Unsplash

Jasmine (Jasminum spp)
It originally comes from India, jasmine has armoatic white flowers from which we can extract its’ essential oils. Its properties are relaxing and sedative. It can lift spirits and help maintain a good mood and it is used for relieving tension in the emotional realm.

Imagen de Сергей Рабатин en Pixabay 

Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
It is especially useful in case of vertigo, and in problems linked to digestion. It represents the clarity of thought and freedom from the societal fears.

Find the passion, experiment, on yourself, and on people around you. This can be a way to better understand the people around us.
You can hold a vial of essential oil, and directly imbibe the smells from it.
You will unlock the power of olfactory senses.