Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sense-ational (Pt. 2) The Nose Knows...

Welcome to part two of my multipart series of articles featuring items that appeal to the senses - other than the sense of sight. Last week I featured some great Etsy shop items that would appeal to one's sense of touch. This week, as promised, I'm taking a venture into the realm of aroma.

The sense of smell is a mystery that has baffled scientists for a long time... but in 2004, after 15 years of intensive research, two American scientists (Linda Buck of the Fred hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and Richard Axel of Columbia University) unraveled part of the mystery by decoding the approximately 1000 genes that are responsible for our ability to recognize and remember upwards of 10,000 different odors. I've highlighted the word "remember" because science has found that one of the unique things about sense of smell is that it is strongly linked to our memories. Without going into detail about what happens in the limbic system of the brain, consider this... have you ever smelled something and immediately thought back to a time past when that smell made an impression on you? Perhaps you associated vanilla with memories of baking sugar cookies with grandma as a child and now whenever you smell vanilla, you're mentally back in Grandma's kitchen. On the flip side, certain places or situations can actually evoke such strong memories of a scent that when you're in a certain place, you may actually smell something that's not even there! I'd love to hear about your experiences with this!

On to the items I've selected for this week's sense-ual feature! A lot of work has been done in the field of aromachology - the science of aromas/odors and their effect on human behavior. Studies show that certain scents or categories of scents have consistently recurrent affects on people, their emotions, behavior, and even physical well being.

Want to wake up quickly after a lousy night's sleep? Take a whiff of coffee... you don't even need to drink it! And luckily, the aroma of roasted coffee beans is a scent that the majority of people appreciate - even if they can't stand the taste of the beverage itself. I'll admit that I was one of those people when I was younger... I loved the smell of coffee brewing in the morning but I didn't actually start drinking coffee until my late 30's - and what I drink now is more like sweetened milk with a touch of coffee... but I still love going to Whole Foods to pick up my hubby's favorite blend - Sumatra Blue Batak - medium We have a friend who was a barrista for awhile and got him hooked. I'll admit it's a pretty smooth flavor. Every once in awhile tho, we treat ourselves to some Kona Coffee, so I tracked down this KONA BLEND Custom Coffee Blend at Katherynmd on Etsy. Kona coffee beans are some of the best in the world, so if you're a coffee drinker and have never indulged in Kona coffee, maybe now's the time to try!

Maybe you had a great night's sleep but still would like a bit of a mood lifter. Yes... chocolate IS the answer! Just smelling it releases serotonin in the brain, acting like a natural antidepressant. How better to keep that aroma within easy reach of your nose than using a chocolate scented lip balm? PetiteThrela offers a Hot Chocolate All Natural Lip Balm that sounds simply divine!

Citrus, mint, evergreen, and camphor scents are all aromas which fall into the refreshing category. Clean and fresh, they stimulate the senses, and give you energy. I'm probably going to age myself a bit here, but when I was a teen-ager, Love's Fresh Lemon Body Spray was all the rage - and I never left home without it! My tastes have matured a bit, and in searching through the many, many choices that would fit this category, Crystalwood's CITRUS COOLER Silky Body Mist looked very appealing to me! The product description says it perfectly - "CITRUS COOLER is a tangy blend of genuine lemon, lime, tangerine and verbena essential oils with a cooling hint of mint. The perfect blend to refresh and revitalize!"

Perhaps you want to create a romantic mood. You'll be looking to indulge in scents that have an aphrodisiac quality. These scents tend to be strong and earthy, spicy sweet, deep and warm. I came across a perfect example of this aroma category at YappsCottageDecor. Featuring a blend of Champa flowers, sandalwood, violet, clove, amber, ylang ylang, patchouli and musk, their 4 pk of Nag Champa soap is even available in a vegan version.

After a long day, it's time to relax and get a good night's rest. A long soak in the tub, indulging your senses with soft florals or balsams is a great way to start relaxing. SpottedCowSoaps features a wonderful Lavender Bath Set including bath gel and body lotion - allowing your senses to linger in the intoxicating headiness of pure lavender essential oil ingredients.

I'm going to add one last scent - it happens to be my favorite. Dealing with stress and anxiety can be a weak point for me so anything that can help me relax without making me sleepy is a good thing. Clary sage, while havng a sedative effect for some people, doesn't really have that effect on me. It is my favorite scent when I need a de-stressor, and I always keep a supply of clary sage incense on hand. It's just enough to help me regenerate on "those days"! It can be hard to find tho, and I was happy to find a listing for CLARY SAGE HERBAL 25 hand dipped incense Sticks at the recently opened IncenseShop!

Thank you to ArtAkimbo for the opportunity to feature the great triangular nose magnet at the opening of this article!

Well, that's it for this sense-ational installment. I think the next sense I'll tackle will be taste - there's lots of good food items on Etsy, so I don't think it will take much to find some great examples! Til my next writing - have a great day and happy shopping!


Patti said...

This is a fascinating post! In fact, you inspired my next should be up later! Thank you!

Splendid Little Stars said...

You have posted some wonderful items! I'm ready right now to indulge my sense of smell and chase these winter blues away.
PS. a little clary sage essential oil in a bath (along with eucalyptus) is wonderful!

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