The power of smell on our subconscious

All of our five senses are important, but it is a fact that one of them gets scant consideration: smell.

Unlike other mammals, humans tend to neglect their smell and rely only on their vision. We don’t have names for odours and this shows how little importance we attach to them compared to colors and sounds. Yet smell is the most primitive of our senses: newborns have a keen sense of smell whereas their other sensations are still developing.

Aren’t we filled with childhood memories when we pass in front of a bakery? What about the smell of freshly ground coffee coming from a roaster or in a café, or an odour-filled dish that makes your mouth water? How about that exquisitely perfumed body lotion that gives you a feeling of well-being and sensual delight?

Our body odour plays an important role in our sex life. Sexual intimacy can be affected by our sense of smell. Certain lotions can stimulate desire.

Our sense of smell allows us to identify that which other senses can’t: a forthcoming menacing weather, someone’s aura, or the odour of someone whose perfumes can’t quite conceal. Our nose plays a more important role than we think in our relations with people. Each individual has his own body odour to which people unconsciously react.

Smell is an ancient sense that goes back to our prehistoric ancestors who smelled one another to get-acquainted…

Our smelling apparatus

The olfactory cells are located in the upper regions of the nasal cavity, in a mucus called "olfactory epithelium". Fibres extend these cells into the olfactory bulb which is connected to the olfactory area of the brain.

Odour-filled molecules are dissolved into the nasal mucus and stimulate the sensory cells, setting off a nervous impulse which travels as far as the openings in the ethmoid bone. From there it reaches the olfactory bulb and the olfactory nerves.