Inhaling Aromas Affects Your Health
Inhaling Aromas Affects Your Health

You probably take your sense of smell for granted – but did you know that both your physical and emotional well-being depend on it? Aromas abound in all parts of our lives – some positively and some negatively – but if you were to lose your sense of smell, it may affect your quality of life, in addition to affecting some of your other senses. Here’s a quick look at why you should value your sense of smell.

The Connection Between Smell and Taste

Olfaction, otherwise known as the sense of smell, is the only sense with a direct link to the brain. The sense of smell is connected to the sense of taste. The nose is capable of detecting a lot more smells than the ear can in sounds; and the nose is also capable of detecting over 10,000 different types of smells.1 Up to 90% of what you taste is actually smell.2 If you have a dog, you will know that a dog is capable of detecting a lot more smells than a human can – and its nose is highly stimulated a lot of the time! My dog uses his tongue a lot of the time when “sniffing” out aromas, positive confirmation that smell and taste are connected in his world.

How Aromas Enter Your Nose

Simply put, your nose inhales a specific smell, chemically converts it and then passes that information to your brain. Electrochemical messages are sent to the appropriate part of the brain, triggering the release of neuro-chemicals and causing subsequent effects. Of course, the whole process is a lot more complex than it sounds – but offset that against the fact that it happens in a matter of seconds and you can see what an amazing process it is!

The Importance of Smell

Your sense of smell allows you to identify the fragrance of a flower or an aroma of your favorite food; certain smells trigger memories of a specific, time, place or person – both positive and negative experiences. Your sense of smell can also help you to identify danger; for example, fire. A loss of your sense of smell can alter your perception of taste. Losing your sense of smell has a significant impact on your life.

Causes of Smell Disorders

Some people lose their sense of smell, either permanently or temporarily. Smell disorders can be caused by a number of factors which include the following:

  • respiratory infections

  • dental problems

  • medications

  • nervous system disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease

  • polyps in nasal cavities

  • head injuries (frontal lobe)

  • hormonal imbalances

  • solvent and insecticide exposure

  • aging.3

Scent and Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy aims to improve your well-being by using, primarily, your sense of smell. Although aromatherapy works in a couple of ways, the quickest way in which essential oils access the body is through inhalation of the nose. Hence: Aroma-therapy.

Inhalation is also one of the most effective ways to treat emotional problems in aromatherapy.4 This is probably why many people associate the practice of aromatherapy with the treatment of stress, depression, and anxiety. Although the scope of aromatherapy practice is much wider than this, it is true that many essential oils are suitable for relieving the symptoms associated with emotional problems, specifically through inhalation. Aromatherapy diffusers, personal inhalers, and roll-on aromatherapy applicators can be used in effectively in these situations. Some of the essential oils that are used to assist with emotional health issues include:

  • lavender

  • rose

  • neroli

  • bergamot

  • clary sage

  • frankincense

  • geranium

  • juniper

  • patchouli

  • vetiver

  • sweet orange

  • ylang ylang.

Smell, Aromas, and Your Health

As an aromatherapist, I am well aware of the power that scent has on my own health. In fact, since I started working with essential oils over a decade ago, my own sense of smell has become more acutely aware of the difference between “good” smells and “bad” smells. And I am not just talking about the difference between natural scents such as rose and horse manure! Exposure to synthetic fragrances and highly chemicalized products often induces nausea and headaches in me, to the point that I can not be in the same space as women who wear synthetic, commercial perfumes, or homes which use highly toxic household cleaning products.

Our sense of smell enhances our well-being and alerts us to the dangers in the environment around us, although many of us have “forgotten” the dangers to be found in modern-day, synthetic brands. Don’t take your sense of smell for granted and use it more effectively for your health!

Next time that you inhale the aroma of a rose in your garden, stop and consider for a moment what your world might be like without one of your greatest senses…

Learn More About Aromatherapy with Sedona Aromatherapie

If you would like to learn more about enhancing your health with aromatherapy, consider the Sedona Aromatherapie Linguistics of AromaticsTM program!


  1. Davis, Patricia, 1999, Aromatherapy: An A-Z, UK: Vermilion

  2. Clarke, Sue, 2008, Essential Chemistry for Aromatherapy, UK: Churchill Livingstone

  3. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website, Smell Disorders, accessed February 27, 2017

  4. Price, Shirley, Price, Len, 2012, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, UK: Churchill Livingstone

  • Author is a 20 year veteran in the health care and aromatherapy industry, a UK-certified aromatherapist and, published author in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business owner, a consultant, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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