Fragrances and their effects: Smell yourself happy

Mimosa, orange, rose, mint, vanilla … Fragrances not only caress the nose, but also the soul, body and spirit. How do they do that?

"Oh how great …

… your perfume totally reminds me of the sunscreen that my parents used to take with them when they were on vacation in Italy! "Just take a deep breath and a film is already playing in my head. Why is that? Our nose has a direct link to the emotional and memory center in the brain. If we perceive a known smell, it can reactivate the associated feelings and images. Surprisingly: Our olfactory memory is already formed and expanded in the womb – what mom smells in the last weeks of pregnancy and what she feels , is transmitted directly to the fetus. When we are then in the world, new smell-emotion connections are constantly added. "These olfactory memories, with which we can smell ourselves happy, lie dormant in us, we just have to know which aroma they are activated ", says the olfactory researcher and book author Professor Dr. Hanns Hatt from the Ruhr University Bochum.

Food for the soul

Aromatherapy is a healing method based on the effects of essential plant oils and also deals with the influence of scents on the psyche. Essential grapefruit oil is given particular attention. It is one of the strongest natural fragrances and, along with neroli (the blossoms of bitter orange), is one of the most effective mood enhancers and stress relievers.

But aromas can not only relieve feelings of fear or minimize excitement, they can also give us a new energy boost when we are tired. For example, menthol or citronellal made from lemongrass provide a kick of freshness. "These fragrances dock on the so-called gaba, i.e. our sleep receptors, in the brain and block them," explains Professor Hatt. This prevents the feeling of tiredness and we are more lively. Other molecules, such as parts of lavender oil, are among the sleep promoters and work in the same way as the sedative Valium – but in a somewhat weaker form.

Even the skin can sniff

Some of the receptors that are found in our nose are also found in other cells in the body. For example, we can perceive smells through the skin, and also absorb and use individual fragrance molecules from perfumes and oils in the body. Sandalore, for example, a synthetic sandalwood fragrance, accelerates the healing of injured skin by up to 40 percent and can even lengthen the growth phase of our hair.

Completely new and still being researched are fragrances which are intended to stimulate the production of the skin's own pigment melanin and which could make for a beautiful complexion – just by smelling it. And who knows what else will still be possible – after all, only a small part of the odor receptors found in the skin have been identified so far.

But no matter what biochemical reactions fragrance molecules trigger, neurologists know that when we perceive something that we like with one of our senses, the reward system in the brain releases the happiness hormone dopamine. This also explains the special feeling that comes about when we pick up or look at a beautiful bottle.

What was that again?

What is the difference between EdT and EdP?

In contrast to the Eau de Toilette (EdT), the fragrances in the Eau de Parfum (EdP) are much more concentrated. That makes the scent more intense and it doesn't go away as quickly.

How do I best store my fragrance?

Admittedly, the flacons look best on the bathroom shelf. But unfortunately the tropical climate change when showering is pure poison for the delicate water. They prefer a dry home with a stable temperature and little light – for example the bedroom.

Why do I stop smelling my favorite fragrance at some point?

Because the nose has got used to it. Normally it picks up a stimulus and sends it to the brain, where it is processed. But if she has done this before, she knows the scent and saves herself the work – the message does not get to the higher floor. However, if the nose gets to deal with new nuances, it quickly forgets the familiar ones – and then it works again with the favorite perfume.

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BRIGITTE 14/2020