The sense of smell is an ancient sense. All living things, from single-celled bacteria to the most accomplished hound dog, can detect chemicals in their environment. Odors are molecules, after all, and olfaction is just the vertebrate version of chemical sensing. I have a particularly sensitive olfactory system. It isn’t that I can detect scents that other people can’t detect. It’s that scents tend to have a greater affect on me.
Our sense of smell is distinct from our other senses. We are able to create rich descriptions for our favorite objects by expressing their colors or shapes or sizes or textures. Sounds, we can describe, by talking about their volume, pitch and tone. Yet it’s almost impossible to describe a scent without comparing it to another familiar aroma. Our sight, taste and hearing come from “sensory memos” that are delivered straight to the part of the brain called the thalamus, and from there out to the primary sensory cortices. But sents winds its way through other brain regions, including the centers for memory and emotion, before reaching the thalamus.
When I was studying neuroscience, we learned that none of our senses reaches our consciousness without first passing through the thalamus. Where scents are concerned, you have all this basic brain processing before you have conscious awareness of what they smell like. An assortment of internal and external factors influences how we perceive a particular scent. For instance, sweet smells can reduce pain by activating the brain’s opoid systems. So…if the next time you have a nagging headache caused by tension or other minor causes, you make a point of going out for coffee at your favorite bakery, you might quickly discover the headache going away as the fragrances of freshly baked cookies waft through your nostrils and up to your brain.
I have diffusers in every room of our home, and I have my specific mixtures of essential oils that are always burning. My favorite fragrance of all times is lavender. For energy, I typically diffuse blood orange and peppermint with a drop or two of lemongrass. However, since I usually have a high level of energy with or without essential oils doing their magic, I usually diffuse oils that help with concentration and creativity. This is typically a mixture of frankinscense, myrrh and sandalwood, with a drop….a single drop…of patchouly. (I go through about five of the large Doterra bottles of frankinscense a month.) It is with the help of this particular mixture that I recently completed two songs that are in a publisher’s office in Nashville going through their third round of consideration for publication. It is with this mixture of scents that I recently completed a lucrative art commission and it is with this mixture, that I have done my best creative writing and my most delicious and creative cooking. It works, folks.
When our little granddaughter went through a strong bout of anxiety prior to beginning her kindergarten year of school, I diffused vetiver for her and guided her through some meditations that were designed to eliminate anxiety in children. Poof! Gone. And without the anti-anxiety drugs that are pumped into so many children these days.
Yesterday, John gifted me with a bottle of a new fragrance by Fiele Fragrances called, “Pogostemon.” It smells very much like the oils that I diffuse in our home. The Fiele frangrance line is my new passion. I am wild about each and every scent, but the Pogostemon is my very favorite. I’m wearing it this morning, as I type this.
The essential oil that is used in making this particular perfume is extracted from the leaves of the Pogostemon plant and is well known for its deep and earthy aroma, most commonly referred to as patchouly….but not.
Patchouly is a scent that is commonly used to reduce tension, insomnia and anxiety, while being a mood lifter. The scent is rich and intoxicating, and has been used throughout history as an aphrodisiac, however, it has a bad rap becasue of the poor quality versions people often associate wit the 60’s….that strong, overwhelming, powerful, knock-your-socks off fragrance. The specific type of patchouli used in Pogostemon perfume is used in many of the finer fragrances today. This type of patchouly is a dark variety that is cultivated in Indonesia. The aroma is a distiinctive, rich, warm and delicious one that has a powdery note, thanks to the addition of vanilla absolute, tonka bean absolute and cocao absolute. It is truly divine.
I want to procure all of the Fiele line of fragrances. Each one is special and beautiful. The Pogostemon is a start, and I am grateful to my sweet husband for gifting me with this fragrance. I wish you could take a whiff right now. It is divine. It really is.