SMELL and YOUR OLFACTORY SYSTEM

Which smell bring back memories for you?...

The aroma of water on hot stone always brings back childhood memories of summers swimming in my blow-up pool in our garden and running to lie on the stone porch to get warm...

Smell, almost more than any other sense, has the ability to dredge up memories, change moods or ease tension.

This easy-to-follow diagram shows you which parts of the brain are affected when you become aware of an odour...

Olfactory System


When an odour is inhaled, it first impinges on the OLFACTORY EPITHELIUM which contains some 20 million nerve endings.

The odour is transmuted into a "nerve message" which is then amplified by the OLFACTORY BULB. The nerve message passes along the OLFACTORY TRACT and enters the LIMBIC SYSTEM where you begin to make sense of it.

This odour/nerve message is first analysed by the AMYGDALA and theHIPPOCAMPUS, both of which are memory centres.

Because of being a storage space for memories, they also play a major role in emotional responses.

At this point, the smell may trigger a memory, whether recent or past.

The message, or triggered memory, is then passed to the HYPOTHALAMUS which acts as a regulator and a relay station. The HYPOTHALAMUS has the option of sending the message off to other parts of the brain.

Where do the "smell messages" go to next?...

Euphoric odours, such as CLARY SAGE, GRAPEFRUIT and JASMINE tend to stimulate the THALAMUS.

This stimulation causes the THALAMUS to secrete neurochemicals called enkephalins.

Enkephalins, incidentally, act as painkillers but also induce feelings of well-being or euphoria... Making us feel uplifted!

Inhaling aphrodisiac odours such as PATCHOULI and YLANG YLANG result in the stimulation of the PITUITARY GLAND which then secretes endorphins.

Endorphins are also painkillers. And, these chemicals are real "feel-good" hormones - inducing both feelings of euphoria and sexual feelings.

The pituitary gland also governs the other endocrine glands in the body, including the THYROID, ADRENALS and SEXUAL GLANDS.

When you detect an odour such as CHAMOMILE, LAVENDER and ORANGE BLOSSOM, you are causing the part of the brain called the RAPHE NUCLEUS to be stimulated.

Stimulating the RAPHE NUCLEUS releases serotonin.

Serotonin acts as a sedative neurochemical - a good one to let loose in your system if you need to relax!

Odours such as ROSEMARY, LEMONGRASS and JUNIPER are "up-beat" and stimulating. They affect the LOCUS CERULEUS which secretes and releasesnoradrenaline into the system.

Noradrenaline gives us that "WAKE UP" feeling! 

Odours should not only be "chance encounters"...

  • Understanding how a smell affects the brain and what sensations or feelings we can expect from certain aromas can help us appreciate the role of ESSENTIAL OILS in stress relief and general well-being.

  • Try a simple essential oil recipe to treat everyday ailments.

  • Learn to choose the oils that are going to stimulate the part of the brain that is going to give YOU the result that you need!... A few drops of Lavender on your pillow at night can help you to relax and drift into sleep.

  • Or use a blend with Lemongrass in a diffuser for a GET-UP-AND-GO effect.

  • A sniff of your favourite relaxing oil can avert a panic attack and minimise the effects of stress on your body!

SO, give your brain the respect it deserves! MANAGE your MOODS! And rememember to HAVE FUN!




Which smells bring back memories for you?

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