Sunday, October 26, 2014

Why Your Sense Of Smell Is Crucial For Your Health

The sense of smell is something we often take for granted in our daily lives.  The senses of sight and sound seem more important and we tend to rely on them for taking care of ourselves in the world.  Smell is a vital sense as it can alert us to danger like a gas leak, fire or rotten food.  Additionally, it is linked to parts of the brain that process emotion and memory. Certain smells can actually trigger feelings in us.  Smell also affects our sense of taste, thereby explaining why foods can become flavorless when someone has a stuffed nose.

The sense of smell in Ayurveda is known as the gateway to the brain.  Using aromas can affect a person's physiology immediately and they can affect a person in an unconscious, subtle manner.  Ayurveda and aromatherapy use smell as a healing modality.

The presence of the sense of smell is a sign of good health.  A recent study has found that losing one’s sense of smell strongly predicts death within five years.  The study results suggested that the nose knows when death is imminent, and that smell can serve as a diagnostic tool for assessing the overall state of the body's health.  The researchers felt the loss of the sense of smell predicted death more accurately than did a diagnosis of cancer, heart failure or lung disease.  The loss of the ability to smell is not the cause of death but rather the likelihood of body deterioration and eventual death.

Linking loss of smell to eventual death is pretty severe.  The rationale behind it is based on the physiology of the human body.  The tip of the olfactory nerve, which contains the smell receptors, is constantly being regenerated by stem cells.  The olfactory nerve is unique in this regard in that it is the only part of the body to be exclusively maintained in this way.  Other parts of the body use stem cells plus other mechanisms. The production of new stem cells declines with age, and this is why people have a reduced ability to smell as they age.  Once a total loss of smell is experienced, this demonstrates the body is in a state of malfunction.  The stem cells are not being reproduced and thus cannot regenerate the sense of smell and eventually other body functions. 

Maintaining our sense of smell is the same as maintaining our health.  One needs to have healthy habits like exercise, a good  diet and proper sleep.  Exercise has been linked to preventing the loss of smell.  Also, adequate amounts of zinc are needed to maintain the sense of smell. 

Ayurveda and modern science are showing us the value of noticing every part of our body and how it affects and predicts our health.

Stay healthy & well,

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