Our Sense of smell

Senses1The human nose is the highest feature on the facial landscape, a highly distinctive organ, not always fully appreciated, the receptor of smell, and associated with taste too.


How does one actually recognise odours in our environment? At the top of the nasal cavity, a dense number of olfactory neurons are grouped together in an area about the size of a postage stamp, having masses of cilia or minute hairs. Once these are stimulated by molecules from an external substance, say a certain flower, these hairs convey electrical impulses to the brain, which are then translated as an odour.
Smell is wired to the Limbic section of the brain, that part which lusts, loves, rages and remembers!


Though we tend to think that we perceive a given odour similarly to other people, every sense of smell is, in fact, subtly different. For example, one individual's perception of chocolate may be 30% different to another's.

When smelling fruits or flowers, one is sensitive to the esters evaporating from them. Since there are scientific formulas for each type, these can be reproduced artificially.


Our sense of smell is not limited to the "nice smells"; these neurons were designed to detect unpleasant odours as well, and in many cases, may alert us to danger, and in so doing, can be life-saving. Take for example, a gas leak, which could be fatal, burning rubber, the danger of fire, or food which is inedible and which should not be consumed, and many other examples that crop up in our daily lives.

Strangely, our sense of smell gets bored quite easily. The enticing aromas that one experiences in a bakery are mostly diluted by the time we leave, and the same can apply in many other instances.


Our sense of smell, compared with that of animals, is pretty feeble and nowhere near as acute. A cat's sense of smell is fifteen times stronger than that of humans. Both cats and dogs spend much of their time sniffing around for smells, which tell them much about the environment! Bears, rats, guinea pigs, and even snakes, have a keen sense of smell, but the blood hound gets top prize. This animal can stay on the trail of a person for days, and is better than the best man-made odour detector!


Humans' sense of smell is linked to our emotional recollections. One of the most evocative odours of childhood is that of wax crayons. Throughout our lives one aroma or another will conjure up memories of people, places and experiences, good or bad.
No other business is as enthralled with smell as that of the perfume industry. A future article will deal with this unique topic.


In terms of what is available to arouse our sense of smell, the cosmetic industry is one that offers a tremendous range of fragrances, both exotic and bland.


People's tastes vary enormously, which is one of the reasons why MatsiMela Home Spa offers such a range of enticing fragrances. From Ginger and Lime to Litchi and Rose, from Vanilla and Sandalwood to Baobab, the offerings of Body Butters, Kalahari Salt Scrubs, Lip Balms, and other take-home body care products are a delight to the senses.