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The Olfactory System

Taken from our 
Level 1 Aromatherapy Course
Foundations in Aromatherapy

Overview Of The Olfactory System

As we just mentioned, the nose is a part of the respiratory system which brings oxygen into the lungs to be processed through the body system. As you are well aware the nose is also responsible for our sense of smell. Our sense of smell is one of our finest senses, even more so than taste and touch.

Smell is the strongest link to the subconscious mind and we retain memories associated with smells for very long periods of time. It is said, that our bodies can process between 10,000 to 100,000 different smells and remember them. It is very similar to a lock and key. When we first smell something it gets locked into our brain and then when we happen to smell that scent again it triggers the memory. How many times have you found yourself saying, "Hey, do you know what that smell reminds me of?"

Scent is captured from the air around us and passed through the filter of the cilia in our noses. Our nasal cavities have thousands of olfactory nerve cells that carry scent directly to the Olfactory bulb which is located at the back of our nose. It has nerve endings that send messages directly to the brain. This is the only place where our central nervous system is directly exposed to the environment. That is why inhalation directly affects the central nervous system.

The Olfaction response bypasses the Neo-cortex or conscious brain and goes directly to the limbic system of the brain. The limbic system houses all of our sensory experiences such as memories, emotions, sex drive, hunger, pleasure, instincts etc. It is the center of all of our emotions and therefore affects our emotional behavior. ...

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