The term anosmia means lack of the sense of smell. It may also refer to a decreased sense of smell. Ageusia, a companion word, refers to a lack of taste sensation. Patients who actually have anosmia may complain wrongly of ageusia, although they retain the ability to distinguish salt, sweet, sour, and bitter—humans’ only taste sensations.


Of the five senses, smell ranks fourth in importance for humans, although it is much more pronounced in other animals. Bloodhounds, for example, can smell an odor a thousand times weaker than humans. Taste, considered the fifth sense, is mostly the smell of food in the mouth. The sense of smell originates from the first cranial nerves (the olfactory nerves), which sit at the base of the brain’s frontal lobes, right behind the eyes and above the nose. Inhaled airborne chemicals stimulate these nerves.

There are other aberrations of smell beside a decrease. Smells can be distorted, intensified, or hallucinated. These changes usually indicate a malfunction of the brain.

— J. Ricker Polsdorfer, MD

Even if you don’t have a sense of smell, you will still react to the chemical messages of the essential oil, since they  enter the limbic system of the brain (see earlier posts).

A couple of weeks ago I met a lady who is anosmic. A year ago she suffered a bad fall down a flight of stairs and hit her head. Today she can not smell anything. Her sense of taste is unchanged, her tastebuds functions as they should. But the pleasure of eating is naturally gone. It is not known where the problem lies; if it is in the olfactory nerves, olfactory bulb or in the brain itself. More study has to be done to discern this, if it is even possible.

After talking to her for a while I felt she needed pushy and stimulating oils, and from the selection I made, she chose: Ginger (zingiber officinale), Bay Leaf (laurus nobilis), Myrtle (myrtus communis) and Lime (citrus medica).

And how did she choose when she cannot smell the oils? By watching her very carefully I could see her reactions to the different oils; I also made her aware of these reactions so she could observe her emotions. Very quickly she started to “feel” the oils instead of “trying to smell them”. She was overjoyed by the fact that she was having an experience from aroma. The blend of oils in a base of vegetable oil was wonderfully fresh and energetic. Every time she smelled it a smile would light up her face.

As I have mentioned before, in earlier posts, all scents or aromas do not have this effect.

Published by Body & Mind Balance

Aroma-therapist, Botanical skin care and perfumes, Inspiring speaker and coach for personal development. Workshops and one-on-one sessions. I am a horseback archer who likes to play with fire and sew costumes.

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