Tag Archives: smell

SENSUAL FRAGRANCES

Fragrances have through time been associated with sensuality, love and passion. Humanity has forever looked for the scents which are aphrodisiac in nature, turning people’s heads, making them breathless with desire. Essential oils are amongst these scents; since ancient times have they been used to induce passion and love. Scents as widely removed as clover and rose are on this list.

When researching aphrodisiac scents I noticed that the idea of aphrodisiacs has changed through the times, depending on society and whims. At one time the strongest aphrodisiacs were thought to be musk and civet – taken from the sex-glands of the muskrat and civet-cat. These are strong pheromones that supposedly stimulate the vomeronasal organ, or VNO. Today it is known that this part of the olfactory system is used to “pick up” pheromones between individuals of the same species.

Over time the idea of aphrodisiacs has gone through most scents we know today, from grasses and spices, through woods and roots to flowers. (Though some flowers were always thought to be aphrodisiacs.) I think it also had something to do with the abundance of human smells in the earlier days. In a letter from Napoleon to Josephine he writes: ” I will be home in 3 months, don’t wash”. This gives an idea of the pheromone power!

I personally believe that sensuality is a combination of many things; pheromones – we enjoy the other person’s smell, food, relaxation, scent and, of course for women, monthly cycle. Body smell is made up of pheromones; as much as we enjoy the scent of our loved ones, as badly do we experience the smell of someone we don’t like. One of the first signs of “falling out of love” is when we no longer enjoy the other person’s smell.

(“Researchers have already shown that ‘man sweat’ can elicit some unusual physiological responses in some women: an increased heart rate, a better mood, and sexual arousal.” Read the article here)

Perfumes are designed to make people attractive to each-other. Male perfumes are usually the scents that mostly attract women and vice verse. Today there is a whole industry creating perfumes with pheromones (synthetic) to enhance the attraction of the other sex.

Here is a list over the most commonly used aphrodisiac essential oils, there are of course many more. Sniff around and go with your feelings. The best-known aphrodisiacs are often warming and bring you into contact with emotion and body. To access the emotional areas of the brain, true essential oils are needed, not synthetic scents.

  • Jasmine (Jasminum officinale / J.grandiflora): Helps when there is tension or fear.
  • Rose (Rosa centifolia, R. damascena): Heady scent that helps open up the heart.
  • Ylang-Ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina): Euphoric, releases tension and anger.
  • Sandalwood (Santalum album): Deeply relaxing and balsamic.
  • Cinnamon (cinnamomum zeylanicum): Warming and opening.
  • Cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum): Exciting, releases tension
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale): Hot, fiery, stimulating.
  • Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea): Very close to female hormone, deeply seductive.
  • Clove (Syzygium aromatica): Liberating, seductive. (might work best in a blend, since many associate it with the dentist!)
  • Black Pepper (Piper nigrum): Warming, fiery, movement.
  • Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia): Sensual, relaxing.
  • Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin): Playful, straightforward, fun. Used as a perfume by the hippie-generation.
  • Oud (Aquileria malaccensis): Use it straight up as a perfume, deeply sensual and sexy. Enhances floral notes.

Use them in the bath, as air-spray, massage-oil, perfume and/or room-scent. Spray them on your linen and on your hair. Use your imagination and have fun. Just remember dosages and possible sensitization. For best effect, use them sparsely – too much scent dulls the mind and can give head-aches instead. Be careful with floral oils if there is asthma or allergy.

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LITTLE STORIES ABOUT SCENT

Ever since I can remember I have perceived my world largely through the sense of smell. I smell everything! As a little child I could find my way home, eyes closed, just by smelling. My siblings teased me and said I was a dog.  Sometimes I thought that if I would go blind, I could probably make it in the world anyway, just by smelling. I lived my first 7 years in Japan, then moved to Sweden. These countries smell very different, and the first months in Sweden I was busy sorting the scents… Over time and travels I have found that every country has its own scent, even cities. The metro in Paris has a smell like no other metro in the world, though the London underground has a touch of it. (This memory is from a trip to Paris when I was 11).

When I was 9 yrs old I was sent on holidays to friends of the family who lived in a huge mansion by the sea. Behind the mansion there was this beautiful rose-garden where I spent most of my time reading. One day I collected as much roses as I could carry and brought them to my room where there was a wash-stand. There I immersed the rose-petals in warm water to make rose-water, nobody had ever told me how to do this, I just wanted to keep the scent. I knew then, that I would one day work with scents and plants. (I forgot all about that “wish” for almost 20 yrs and when it resurfaced – while smelling an essential oil – I found my present career.)

At 18, I visited with friends in New York. They took me to China Town where I was hit by such an enormous wave of memories and emotions from my (by now half-forgotten) early childhood in Japan. I was in pieces, seldom have I experienced anything so strong.

One day when I went shopping with my little son, aged 8, we went to the cash-machine to get money. While I am putting away the money, my son  asks me: “Mami, first you smelled your card before you put it in the machine, and then you smelled it when it came out. What do you think the machine did to your card?” I don’t notice that I smell things, I just do it. There is no such thing as a bad smell, it’s all information. A “bad smell” usually means something is rotten, ill or poisonous – very important information. The oil of hops (humulus lupulus) is the oddest-smelling essential oil I have ever come across, its scent is on one hand beautifully  floral and sweet and behind that scent it smells like natural gas. Black pepper (piper nigrum) smells like peppercorns, but behind that there is this ethereal floral scent. Our senses give us the emotional experience of living, but I think that scent is the most subtle of them all. So start paying attention to what you smell and feel – it will take you on a most astonishing journey…Enjoy!

SMELL YOURSELF WELL

The Independent

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Smell yourself well

If smell improves our mood, could it also be an effective treatment for everything from obesity to sleeping problems? The answer is right under our noses, says Hugh Wilson

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

The nose has it: The most underrated human sense could be used to treat a range of complaints, according to research
Getty

The nose has it: The most underrated human sense could be used to treat a range of complaints, according to research

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It’s the too-good-to-be-true weight loss ‘system’ that’s taking America by storm, and its manufacturers hope to launch it here in the next few months. Sensa lets you eat exactly what you want, when you want it, and in the quantities you desire. And it still claims to help you shed around 5lb every month.

It achieves the impossible – its makers say – by making sure the quantities you desire are not very great. Sensa comes as granules that are added to every meal and snack you eat. Put simply, the Sensa “sprinkles” are designed to enhance the sensory experience of eating, stimulating taste and smell to an extent that fools the brain into thinking you’ve eaten more than you have. Users have reported the novel experience of happily leaving food untouched on their plates.

Depending on which expert you talk to, taste is between 75 and 90 per cent about smell, and Sensa is not the only new product on the market in the States that claims to exploit the apparent connection between strong smells and smaller appetites. SlimScents are pens filled with fruity or minty smells, sniffed before meals. Aroma Patch is vanilla scented and worn permanently, like a nicotine patch. All boast scientific validity.

A limited number of studies have been done. Dr Alan Hirsch, the scientist behind Sensa, conducted his own research in 2005 on what would later become Sensa granules. The study followed over 1,400 subjects over a six-month period, and recorded an average weight loss of 30.5lb, and a five-point drop in Body Mass Index.

Kimberly Tobman, a spokeswoman for Sensa, says those results have since been duplicated in a smaller study carried out by an independent laboratory.

And last year Dr Bryan Raudenbush, an associate professor of psychology at the Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, conducted a small study which found that subjects who regularly sniffed a peppermint aroma consumed, on average, 1,800 calories fewer over the course of a week than normal.

Raudenbush is not convinced by the miraculous claims of Sensa and others, and suggests we take them “with a grain of salt and cautiousness”. But he does think something is going on.

“From what we have found in other studies, peppermint scent can distract you from painful stimulation,” he says. In one of them, participants held their hands in cold water for prolonged periods. “Participants who were administered peppermint scent held their hand in the water for a longer period of time and rated the pain as less severe.”

He believes that something similar may be at work in the appetite experiments: strong smells are distracting participants from physical discomfort, whether that means pain or hunger.

Professor Tim Jacob, an expert in smell and taste at Cardiff University’s School of Biosciences, is more sceptical of the connection between strong scents and weight loss, not least because we tend to get habituated to smells very quickly. But he thinks the idea that scents can distract us from pain or allow us to endure more of it is valid.

“The olfactory (sense of smell) system and pain share some brain networks and it’s thought that the positive consequences of experiencing pleasant or familiar odours offsets pain to a measurable extent,” he says.

In fact, there’s increasing excitement in the scientific community about the power of our sense of smell, and what consequences this may have for psychological and physiological health. Though much of the research is in its infancy, various studies have shown that scents like peppermint, vanilla and coffee may have therapeutic effects.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, for example, researchers at the University of Tokyo found that inhaling Linalool, a natural chemical found in flowers and spices, significantly reduced stress levels in rats. And a study at Tubingen University in Germany showed that vanilla fragrance reduced the startle reflex, making us calmer.

Scientists involved in this research are keen to distance themselves from what many see as the quack principles of aromatherapy – the complimentary therapy that recommends administering pleasant smells for anything from cancer to the common cold – which Professor Jacob calls “nonsense”.

But Jacob and others in the field of olfactory research believe the connection between smell and memory – and the associative power of odour – represents a hugely promising avenue of investigation.

“Using conditioned association we could use smell therapeutically, to treat sleep problems, anxiety, blood pressure, etc; and even clinically, possibly for immune system pathologies, intractable medical conditions, for example lower back pain; and use it for drug rehabilitation,” says Jacob. “Smell, once conditioned, can re-evoke a psychophysiological state. It relies upon the association of smell and memory.”

And, as Professor Jacob suggests, it may be possible to programme smell associations for particular therapeutic tasks. In the most famous study of this kind, healthy male volunteers were injected with insulin every day for four days and their blood sugar fell. At the same time, they were exposed to a smell. On the fifth day they were just given the smell, and their blood sugar still fell.

Such findings hold out the promise of some pretty mind- boggling medical advances, from diabetics with inhalers instead of injections, to insomniacs cured by a smell they associate with sleepiness. We’re not quite there yet, but as Jacob says, “watch this space”.