The Olfactory Drive: Scent and Sex
The history of scent and the power of aromatherapy in transforming lives has been recorded since the earliest human civilizations. As far back as 4500BC the Egyptians were using plant essences to make perfumes. The ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, known as the father of medicine, said “the way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day.” The ancient Hindu system of Ayurveda relied on the use of essential oils in its healing potions. According to the Bible’s Book of Exodus, God transmitted a special anointing formula of essential oils to Moses which was used to consecrate the first high priest of the Israelites
Today the practice of Aromatherapy is a vital and frequently used alternative healing modality for a wide range of conditions as scent messages to our brain triggers neurochemicals which produce a wide range of mental effects from relaxation to euphoria. Essential oils are absorbed by the body in two ways-through the nose and through the skin. When the oils are inhaled, the olfactory nerves in the nose transmit the scent message in .05 seconds, faster than the brain registers pain. The olfactory bulb is located in the limbic part of the brain. In addition to scent recognition, this brain center controls memory, emotion and sexuality.
Our sense of smell and what attracts or repels us is blueprinted in our immunological gene structure called the MHC. Each individual’s own genetic scent makeup is as unique as their fingerprint. What’s more, when it comes to reproduction, the healthiest progeny comes from two individuals whose MHC is most distinct and different from each other. This assures that any offspring has the widest range of immune function and therefore is the most disease resistant.
This actually makes perfect sense in terms of our biological imperative to go forth and multiply, but it also profoundly affects the whole courting process as well as the likelihood of making your love sustainable. MHC compatibility is a predictor of not only bearing healthy offspring, but relationship longevity and frequency of cheating on your partner.
Even more remarkable than the biological compatibility of scent between partners is the new recognition that our ability to smell is completely intertwined with our ability to feel. Recent research on people, who suffered anosmia (scent blind) usually from a traumatic injury to the head, shows that they also became unable to feel a wide range of emotions. “Our sense of smell and our emotional experience are fundamentally interconnected, bi-directionally communicative and functionally the same.”
Suddenly the axiom to “Wake up and smell the roses” is not just good advice but actually may save your life. Without scent, we lose the texture and depth that makes life the rich and varied tapestry that it is. Imagine not being able to smell or taste not just a ripe melon, but your lover, it would make the experience almost inaccessible. Practice smelling, indulge in scent and taste and bear witness to the emotional response that accompanies this. It will surprise you.
I have been promoting the use of true scent products that enhance your own natural chemistry for years, intuitively knowing that products made chemically are not just bad for your most sensitive tissue, but also cover up your own natural odor and may just interfere with our ability to find and smell our true mates. So take this message to heart and as you breathe, inhale deeply, build your vocabulary and experience of scent especially around the people you love most. It will make you feel better and has the power to wake up passion you may not know you had.