The Gift of Fragrances
A scent has no personal meaning until it is associated with something that is meaningful.
By Elsa Kruger
One can quite rightly say that scent is the brain’s muse. The hidden power of fragrance is that it has a positive effect on your state of mind and mood; it relieves stress, boosts self-confidence and improves sleep patterns as well as physical and mental performance.
Aromatherapy has been a huge trend in the wellness industry for a number of years already. Research at the Sense of Smell Institute under the umbrella of the Fragrance Foundation in the US shows that you can improve your health and well-being by being aware of how certain aromas affect you personally.
According to the research, a scent has no personal meaning until it is associated with something that is meaningful. With the first awareness of an aroma, you form nerve connections that intertwine the smell with emotions. The capacity for smell and your emotions are seated in the same brain network, the limbic system. The olfactory centre is directly connected to the hippocampus, the part of the brain where new memories are formed and set. Research shows that anosmia, the complete loss of the sense of smell, can lead to depression. And that people with serious depression are often less sensitive to odours.
A decline in the ability to smell can be an early sign of neurological problems like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s diseases. There is currently very interesting research being done into the use of scent in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
Thanks to the strong connection between body and brain, the sense of smell can be used to help you cope better with pain. A pleasant smell distracts the attention and lifts the mood; sweet scents work best.
If you have to write an exam, you can associate the information with a certain aroma by inhaling it while you study, and then take the same scent with you to the exam in a small vial, to prompt your memory.
This brings us to books and smells. It is after all gifting time, and a book or something scented is always welcome. If you want to give someone, like a member of your book club, a perfume or aromatic oil or diffuser, but you don’t know what she likes, you can couple it with the types of books she likes to read.
Who doesn’t love the smell of a brand-new book, a fragile, very old book or even a new magazine? Combine this with a scent that has your nose celebrating while you lose yourself in a book, and it’s almost nirvana.
A book takes you on a flight of the imagination, a journey, an adventure, to another world and new insights. Reading is the perfect way to escape from reality. When you read, you are also taken on a scent experience: The smell of a moss-green forest in a romantic novel, or a campfire and coffee grounds, an Italian kitchen, as the authors describe them to you. The smell of an old library, a stately cathedral, an art museum…
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