"Natural claustrophobia self treatment to provide relief from stress and anxiety. Aids in claustrophobic episodes (elevators, MRIs, commuting, airline travel, trains, crowds and other situations which cause a feeling of being closed in) providing a discrete natural remedy to overcome feelings of fear and anxiety."

How do we smell (part 1 of 2)

Posted: March 29th, 2011 | Author: Shawn_Bee | Filed under: Claustrophobia | Tags: , , | No Comments »

This is not to suggest that we need to find new deodorant or aftershave… but I want to share some science with you regarding how we scientifically smell and process odor signals.

We consider smell to be a very direct sense. Molecules which trigger the sense of smell must reach your nose. Touch on the other hand can occur at your hand or the back of your leg. As molecules trigger receptors in the nose which signals the brain to process and differentiate smell. Therefore, everything you smell gives off molecules–whether it is Cinnabons®, vinegar, perfume or garbage. Those molecules are described as light and “volatile” (easy to evaporate) chemicals that float through the air and into your nose. For instance, bread emits a smell as it can easily change structure, becoming harder with toasting, softer with moisture, etc. It is considered composed of “volatile” molecules. On the other hand, a steel rod has no smell because nothing evaporates from it — steel is a non-volatile solid.

Now, let’s describe the anatomy of smell sensation. According to Discovery Health, at the top of your nasal passages behind your nose, there is a patch of special neurons about the size of a postage stamp. These neurons are unique in that they are out in the open where they can come into contact with the air. They have hair-like projections called cilia that increase their surface area. An odor molecule binds to these cilia to trigger the neuron and cause you to perceive a smell.

From Molecular Biology of the Cell:

Humans can distinguish more than 10,000 different smells (odorants), which are detected by specialized olfactory receptor neurons lining the nose…. It is thought that there are hundreds of different olfactory receptors, each encoded by a different gene and each recognizing different odorants.

Each of the hundreds of receptors are encoded by a specific gene. If your DNA is missing a gene, or if the gene is damaged, it can cause you to be unable to detect a certain smell.

When you smell many fruits or flowers, what you smell are esters evaporating from the fruit or flower. Esters are organic molecules. For example, the ester that gives a banana its smell is called isoamyl acetate, and the formula for it is CH3COOC5H11. We can now make artificial esters, which is how artificial flavors evolved.

Although calmspace™ is all natural, it seemingly is the esters associated with vanilla and lavender which we smell. We still need to understand how smell associates with behavior. I will look into it and report back soon.

Until next time…
Dr. B.