It is often said that if we smell good, we feel good. Fragrance has the ability to lift our mood, bring back a memory, or even completely transport us to another time and place.
The human nose contains roughly 400 olfactory receptors, each of which responds to different smells in different ways, and unless you are dealing with identical twins, no two people will have the same genetic make-up for those receptors. These receptors are directly connected to the limbic system, the most ancient and primitive part of the brain, which is thought to be the seat of emotion, which is why certain scents can trigger reactions in our head that then lead to an emotional response. Because we all react differently to fragrance we can create our own ‘smell-scape’. For instance, many of us find fragrance can alter our mood by relieving stress, creating calm or improving our self-esteem. Others use fragrance to create a sense of self, a sense of family, and a sense of place by helping to define our homes to ourselves and others. In fact, fragrances have associations the world over, and are embedded in our history and culture. For example, lavender is thought of as a sleep aid, and helps to calm the nerves; peppermint is thought to help alleviate stress; cinnamon is believed to take away fatigue; rosemary aids memory and citrus tones are associated with cleansing, as well as improving mood and concentration.
Fragrances are known to have an alluring effect with many people using perfumes and scents to create the right mood when they go on a date, or take part in other social occasions. Research also suggest that we naturally use scent in certain settings, literally sniffing out the partner who will be right for us, suggesting that our noses will help make some very important choices in our lives.