We’re quickly approaching Sense of Smell Day, which is held on April 25th. While everyone at Tsi-La Organics sees every day as a celebration of the transformative power of our sense of smell, this special day is one more reason to celebrate this powerful sense’s ability to channel positive mood and emotion. You likely never knew that the sense of smell is the oldest of the senses. That’s because the sense of smell predates most forms of life on the planet since the sense of smell is even a component of single cell animals. That certainly speaks to its power in guiding our lives. While we have always known societally that there is a strong connection between our sense of smell, emotions, and our moods, it has just been in the last decade or so that there has been overwhelming evidence from scientific studies that explain why and how. A 2012 feature in the Association of Psychological Sciences’ Observer discusses the connection between sense of smell, scents, or emotions, and our memories. In particular, the article discusses how researchers have discovered that there is a strong connection between smells, emotions and early life experiences. The main takeaway is that there is a strong relationship between certain organic scents experienced very early in life (typically before the age of five) that impact us emotionally throughout our lives. The ways that these organic scents are processed in the brain starts in the olfactory bulb, which starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain. The olfactory bulb has direct connections to two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory: the amygdala and hippocampus.
While a 2014 study showed that the nose can smell at least one trillion distinct scents, some of the most pleasant or pleasurable scents include vanilla, some forms of orange scents, and cinnamon among several others. When these organic scents are combined with our own distinct smells, they provide that memory-based connection to emotions and mood that can imprint a person onto our memory in subtle ways. This is because just like a fingerprint, every person has their own distinct scent. The psychological study of the link between scents, the brain and emotions is called Aromachology.
This scientifically-based research deals with how psychology and aromas intersect to elicit emotions through the sense of smell. The neurobiological basis of aromachology rests in the understanding of how olfactory stimuli connect to the limbic system of the brain. This is where memory, basic instincts (hunger, thirst, sex, survival) and the sense of smell are located. This area of the brain strongly influences our behavior, so organic scents can effect relaxation, happiness, sensuality, happiness and self-confidence.
A recent study was profiled in Chemical Senses, published by the Oxford Journals, which detailed tests to measure the physiological stress-reducing effects of organic fragrances. The study subjectively measured the stress relieving effects of ‘relaxing’ fragrances using psychophysiological methods (heart rate, blood pressure, skin resistance, muscle tension, etc.). Researchers discovered that certain relaxing fragrances can reduce stress-induced muscle tension as measured in the shoulder area. We have always known on some level that organic scents can have a profound impact on our mood and our health, but it’s nice to see that the science behind it is both verified and accessible. As Sense of Smell Day approaches, it’s important to acknowledge the vital role that scents can play in our lives. Here at Tsi-La Organics, that knowledge is a part of or DNA, which is why we strive to create organic scents that benefit our minds, moods and bodies on multiple levels.