What happens when we smell?


Inhalation and the brain

There are three responses to smell that can take place: olfactory nerve signaling, emotional response and biological response in the brain. Olfactory nerve signaling is extremely fast and enables us to quickly recognize threats as well as benefits. Emotional reactions to a smell are very individual and depend on many factors, such as culture, age and experience. We can learn to associate a smell with a feeling and because this association – also called anchoring – is so strong, psychologists are looking into using it in therapy.

Finally, molecules of essential oil constituents travel along the olfactory nerves and into the brain itself, by-passing the so-called blood-brain barrier. This overcomes a problem confronting many drugs or even herbal molecules that might otherwise be used in treating brain-related diseases.

This knowledge can be used in the treatment of neurological disease through inhalation. It also means that whenever we smell something, for a while, it actually enters our brain.

This slide is a part of the free How Essential Oils Work in the Body mini-course. Sign up here: https://tisserandinstitute.org/how-essential-oils-work-in-t…/


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