Pepe Le Pew, the amorous French skunk who cavorted through Looney Tunes cartoons from 1945 to 1962, was not particularly scent-sitive. Little did he know — neither did scientists then — that some scent-sations (although not Le Pew's) have healing powers.
Aromatherapy advocates have long claimed that essential oils can relieve stress and ease aches, depression, and digestive problems. But there's been little hard evidence that these effects don’t come from placebo (placebos do work 30 percent of the time).
Recently, however, researchers have been sniffing around the science of smell and have made some pretty sweet discoveries.
It turns out the aroma of sandalwood activates smell receptors in the skin. Once stimulated, smell receptors trigger signals that cause proliferation and migration of skin cells that speed up wound healing.
So, perhaps smelling sandalwood incense can help repair a scrape or cut. That's a pleasing thought.
Plus, scent-sational scents (and tastes) from food stimulate saliva, which contains immunoglobulin A, the body's natural antibiotic that keeps harmful bacteria at bay.
So bye-bye bland, and hello super-smelly spices and herbs like turmeric, allspice, clove, rosemary, thyme, and basil.
Harnessing scents' health-boosting powers makes good sense. But lab experiments show that a high-fat diet and obesity can knock out 50 percent of the brain's ability to register smells!
That’s one more reason why it's es-scential to maintain a healthy weight.
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