How much do you really know about the way your sense of smell impacts your life? It’s actually really amazing to think about how certain smells can calm us, while others can gross us out. Or how one whiff of something familiar, regardless of whether it is good or bad can flood our minds with distinct memories and acute sensations. That’s because our sense of smell has an incredibly strong influence over our emotions, general health, memory, perception and even productivity. In other words, it is arguably one of the more interesting senses we have and learning how it works can help make us a lot healthier.
Why is Our Sense of Smell Important?
Fact is a lot of us take our sense of smell for granted. We don’t realize just how important of a role it plays in our daily lives, from allowing us to smell the food that triggers our hunger to enjoying the calming fragrance of flowers on a particularly stressful day. But our sense of smell does a lot more than that; its main job is to keep us away from harm. Take a moment to consider how it can alert you to all kinds of dangers, including gas leaks, fire, spoiled food, different kinds of poisons, air pollutants, and many others, and you get the idea.
You’d also probably be surprised to learn that the taste buds on our tongues can only detect four distinct qualities in our food; how sweet, sour, bitter and/or salty it is. It’s actually our sense of smell that makes it possible for us to experience the other, more interesting qualities. That’s right, our nose is the chief organ responsible for our sense of taste. This has a lot to do with the two small odor-detecting patches called olfactory sensory neurons that are located high up in the nasal passages. They consist of about five to six million cells that help us distinguish between different kinds of smells.
Now, much like with eyesight and hearing, our sense of smell tends to get weaker as we age. It reaches a plateau by the time we are eight years old and starts to decline, as some scientists suggest, by the time we’re in our 20s. The process is significantly faster for smokers – so, if you haven’t already, this is a good reason to quit. Turns out olfactory deficits have also been noted among people with specific psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, depression, migraines and others, leading to some mental health practitioners to advocate smell-tests for diagnostic purposes as part of standard comprehensive health care.
A number of major enterprises catering to or stemming from our sense of smell have sprung up in recent years. That’s because the public is beginning to understand the psychological and physiological influence our sense of smell holds over us. As a result, scent-oriented businesses are booming. So it’s no surprise that a PRNewswire press lease published by Grand View Research, Inc. last year, announced that the essential oil market alone is expected to grow to $11.67 billion by 2022. Furthermore, emerging research has revealed the vast health benefits associated with using natural and organic products, whether they are for consumption, personal care, or cosmetics.
“These fragrances provide stimulation in aromatherapy, massages, and other relaxation techniques. In addition, numerous health benefits associated with essential oils are anticipated to drive the product demand in medical and pharmaceutical applications. The product also has no detrimental side effects, unlike most conventional drugs and medicines which have helped in penetrating the market further. Limited availability of key raw material and lack of awareness regarding benefits of essential oil particularly in underdeveloped regions is expected to remain a key challenge for market participants.”
Interestingly enough, proponents of alternative and holistic medicine have long been using products that engage our sense of smell. Taking a page from their playbook, emerging companies now offer a large selection of scented health products. At Merkaela, for instance, we supply smudge sticks and scented candles as part of our seasonal wellness package. A smudge stick is a small collection of dried herbs that is typically bound by a string and is usually burned as part of a ritual or cleansing ceremony. Although this has been a common practice for a large number of people across the world, it seems to be experiencing a resurgence in the Americas.
Palo Santo Smudge Sticks from Merkaela
The smudge stick that we included in our Fall Box is called Palo Santo, which actually means “holy wood’. It’s made from a wild tree native to the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico as well as to some parts of Peru, Venezuela, and other countries nearby. Theoretically, Palo Santo is used to combat and prevent the gestation of bad energy as well as to aid in relaxation. Though Palo Santo smudge sticks are usually burned, essential oils are also developed from the wild tree, which are then applied to the skull or base of the spine. Try using it whenever you need to cleanse your space, create balance or improve your mood.
As you may have noticed, this season our products are specifically geared toward helping you open and align your crown chakra, which is responsible for our sense of joy, awareness, and enlightenment. We hope you use them when you’re feeling disconnected from life, overwhelmed by negativity, or are simply in the mood to focus your energy. Since our sense of smell has a strong impact on our mental, physical and spiritual states, we think it’s only fair that you learn how to use it your advantage for a healthier and happier life.