Two Fridays ago I attended a conference called SCENT AND SENSIBILITY at the INSTITUTE OF PHILOSOPHY. It was on the neuroscience of fragrance and featured presentations from academics who have been performing research on olfaction. The day was inspiring as it offered the chance to listen to experts and open discussions. Ultimately it raised awareness on the importance of our sense of smell.
Prof. Thomas Hummel, a world specialist on taste and smell disorders from Taste and Smell Clinic, University of Dresden - and a brilliant speaker - talked about the lack of the sense of smell (anosmia). He firstly reminded us about the significance of the sense of smell in our "chemical communication, in the way we socialise, the way we detect dangers and the way we feel pleasures. Afterwards, he illustrated the effects of anosmia and the importance of olfactive training as treatment.
Put it simply, by lacking bits of tastes and smells, total or partial anosmia sufferers experience food-related (appetite, cooking, weight) discomforts in the first place. What's more, the absence of smells makes them feel insecure in social situations and their sexual drive decreases. All these conditions eventually culminate in long-lasting mood and depression problems.
Olfactive training plays special relevance in the treatment of anosmia, said Dr. Hummel, as it increases the response of olfactory receptors. Tests show that patients that have received olfactory training made much better progress than those who haven’t.
"When people are exposed to odours repetitively, they increase their olfactory function."
By exposing the audience to what is existence is like in the absence of smells, Dr. Hummel ultimately demonstrated the importance of this sense. Put it simply, the better we smell, the longer (and better) we live. By bringing scientific evidence, his presentation motivates me to carry on the work that I have been doing in promoting perfume knowledge to increase wellbeing and enhance people's lives.
The fact that institutions like The Institute of Philosophy are promoting discussions on scents make me think that in the near future the word neglected will be hopefully no longer used when we talk about our dear sense of smell.
For more, his presentation is on youtube: