The Hidden Force of Fragrance

Thanks to a growing body of research, scientists are gaining a better understanding of the link between smell, emotion and wellbeing. Faces appear more likeable when paired with pleasant (even imperceptible) scents, and appear less likeable when paired with nasty odors. Individuals with higher levels of anxiety have a heightened sense of smell and anosmics (those people without a sense of smell) are more insecure and prone to depression.

Stress makes things smell worse and bad smells generate stress. People are 40% more able to detect a smell with a dangerous association from the past versus a smell with a neutral association. Citrus in the air has been found to influence tidiness positively, which may explain the proliferation of lemony scented air fresheners. Smell, beyond all other senses, has the capacity to stimulate old, vivid and powerful memories – an observation dubbed by science as the Proust Phenomenon.

Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of scent is its impact on health and wellness. Studies indicate that the smell of spiced apples can lower blood pressure, aromatic oil massages can relieve anxiety and depression in cancer patients, and a concoction of rosemary and lemon in the morning, and lavender and orange in the evening can increase cognitive ability of individuals with Alzheimer’s.

With all the benefits of scent wafting in the air it’s important to stop and smell the roses.

I wish you all the best,

Dr. Samantha Boardman