Apr 2, 2012

The importance of smell

Many of us take smell for granted, and don’t realize how much we live in a visual world and let our sense of smell go to seed. Being able to smell should not be taken for granted and smell should be physically activated so as not to let go altogether of it and just be used to mundane smells. We should start smelling. Why? In short, to maintain good brain function. How? By activating the olfactory bulb, which is the old part of the brain. Have you ever paused to smell nature- water – animal dung – plants – the smell of fresh honey? If the brain is not used or constantly worked, a part of the brain atrophies. Activating the brain by truly indulging in the art of smelling allows the brain to produce more neurons. Neurons and synapses is what the brain needs. Go into the woods and smell the wetness of the land. Smell the earth. Smell the sun beaten daisies between the rocks. These would all be new smells to you.

The function of the brain

There are two places in the brain where neurons can be manufactured; the hippocampus and the olfactory system. The olfactory is the most important as it can produce neurons to all parts of the brain, which can repair damaged brain cells. This is indeed good news for Parkinson’s and all neuro degenerative disease – for example, Parkinson’s, Alzheimers, Dementia, Muscular Dystrophy. The upshot of all this is that you can repair the damaged neurons. Tests have shown that there can be plaque in the brain and that these neurons can attend to the damage or even repair it. It is important therefore to keep on with the activation of smell in order to maintain steady function. Once you are able to do this you should regularly exercise the brain and the ability to smell, and smell differently than before. However, the olfactory bulb also needs special brain food. The best food for the olfactory bulb is fish – as well as super brain foods such as nuts and seeds and vegetables and fruit.

Activating the sense of smell

You can start in your own kitchen by making a physical effort to smell what you already have, such as beans, cheese, and your olfactory bulb will take you to the keenness of smell that you will at some point even be able to smell land, or to smell raw egg and water. We as unconscious humans don’t really think water has a smell, but it does have. What is more, the olfactory bulb likes its ability to smell and should be exercised like any other part of the body we pay attention to. We are using our eyes and ears more than we are using the much more important sense of smell for the brain. Test it for yourself. Go outside now and see if you can differentiate between the smells of the different flowers in your garden simply by bending down, closing your eyes, and smelling. The discovery of adult neurogenesis has changed our view of the mature brain. This is important knowledge for all of us especially those affected with some kind of brain disease.


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