Mild Head Injury Can Impair Your Sense of Smell

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 31, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Even a mild concussion can temporarily affect your sense of smell and trigger longer-term anxiety problems, a new study finds.

It’s been known that such problems could occur after a major concussion. But this study found it’s also true for minor concussions caused by accidents such as falling off a bike with a helmet on, having a traffic fender-bender, falling on the ski slopes, or slipping on ice and hitting your head.

“A lot of people will suffer a mild concussion at some point in their life, so realizing they have trouble smelling is the first step to telling their doctor about it,” said lead author Fanny Lecuyer Giguere. She did the research as part of her doctoral thesis in neuropsychology at the University of Montreal.

The study included 20 people who suffered minor concussions and a “control group” of 22 people who broke limbs but had no concussion.

Within 24 hours of their injury, just over half of the patients with mild concussions had a reduced sense of smell, compared with 5% of the patients with broken bones, the Canadian researchers found.

A year later, the concussion patients’ sense of smell had returned to normal (most within six months), but their rate of anxiety (65%) was considerably higher than in the control group, the findings showed.

Symptoms of anxiety included worry, difficulty relaxing and sudden feelings of panic.

The University of Montreal-led study was published online recently in the journal Brain Injury.

“It’s important that patients report any loss of smell, because it’s not something their general practitioner or emergency room physician normally asks about,” Giguere said in a university news release.

This could result in closer follow-up to see if the loss of smell and anxiety persist, which could help determine the severity of the concussion, she explained.

Giguere also said that doctors should tell patients with minor concussions to report loss of smell or anxiety in the weeks following their injury.

“It’s a question of raising awareness: The more people are told to watch for signs of olfactory loss [loss of smell] and anxiety, the easier it will be for doctors to respond,” Giguere said.

Future studies should include larger numbers of patients to learn more about the association between anxiety and sense of smell, the researchers concluded.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCE: University of Montreal, news release, July 23, 2019

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Love the Smell of a Cup o’ Joe? Here’s What That Reveals About You

FRIDAY, May 17, 2019 — Java junkies can sniff out even tiny amounts of coffee, and the more they drink, the better they can smell it, British researchers say.

It’s a discovery with powerful implications for treating people addicted to substances with a distinct smell.

“The higher the caffeine use, the quicker a person recognized the odor of coffee,” said study leader Lorenzo Stafford. He is an olfactory expert at the University of Portsmouth, in England.

Not only could the regular coffee drinkers among the more than 90 volunteers quickly detect the aroma of a heavily diluted coffee chemical, their ability to do so increased with their level of craving, the findings showed.

“The more they desired caffeine, the better their sense of smell for coffee,” Stafford said in a university news release.

It’s the first evidence that java junkies are more sensitive to the smell of coffee, according to the study published recently in the journal Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.

Researchers had wondered if coffee drinkers and non-drinkers responded differently to the smell, and whether cravings might be related to an increased ability to detect it.

Describing caffeine as the “most widely consumed psychoactive drug,” Stafford said the findings suggest that changes in the ability to detect smells could be a useful index of drug dependency.

The study authors said their work could lead to new methods of aversion therapy to treat addiction to substances with a distinct smell, such as tobacco and marijuana.

“We have known for some time that drug cues (for example, the smell of alcohol) can trigger craving in users, but here we show with a mildly addictive drug, that craving might be linked to an increased ability to detect that substance,” Stafford explained.

Previous research revealed that people who were trained to associate an odor with something unpleasant later showed greater dislike of that odor. That suggests a possible model for conditioned odor aversion, the researchers said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about addiction treatment.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: May 2019 – Daily MedNews

As Sense of Smell Fades, Does Death Come Closer?

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) — They say the nose knows, but can a loss of smell signal impending death?

Possibly, researchers say.

They discovered that a poor sense of smell was associated with a nearly 50% higher risk of death within the next decade for adults older than 70.

While the study didn’t prove cause and effect, that association is enough to make some experts wonder whether seniors’ sense of smell should be tested alongside their other vital signs.

“I would not be surprised if someday the sense of smell was included as a simple checkup, to see if this important human sense is affected,” said senior researcher Dr. Honglei Chen, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Michigan State University.

As many as 1 in 4 aging Americans suffers a loss in their sense of smell, researchers said in background notes.

Further, research has linked the loss of an ability to smell to your risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and some dementias, Chen said.

But Chen and his colleagues suspected that sense of smell might have broader health implications for seniors than just a predisposition to brain conditions.

So they analyzed data from nearly 2,300 adults between the ages of 71 and 82 who were tracked as part of a larger health study.

Participants took a brief smell identification test as part of a battery of health examinations. They then were tracked for about 17 years, to see what illnesses might affect them.

It’s unusual for seniors to have their sense of smell tested, said Vidyulata Kamath, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

“We notice when our vision is changing. There’s some evidence when our hearing is changing. But what studies have shown is there is a sizable discrepancy between people’s report of their sense of smell functioning versus their actual scores on objective testing,” Kamath said. “There’s a sizable number of adults who have an unawareness of olfactory [sense of smell] loss.”


Kamath wrote an editorial accompanying the study. Both are published April 30 in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Even worse, the new study showed that a loss of smell did indeed serve as a warning that death could be approaching.

“We found that compared to people with a good sense of smell, those with a poor sense of smell had about a 48% higher risk for death at year 10 and a 30% higher risk at year 13,” Chen said. “As we are talking about an older population, this risk is not small at all.”

The association was largely limited to people who reported themselves in good or excellent health at the start of the study, Chen noted.

“This suggested to us it’s an early and probably sensitive marker for ongoing health conditions that may not be regularly recognized by the participants themselves,” Chen said.

What’s more, the researchers found that the conditions already linked to poor sense of smell only accounted for about 28% of the higher death risk. That includes 22% of the risk attributable to neurodegenerative diseases, and 6% linked to weight loss, researchers reported.

“When you lose your sense of smell, that can have downstream effects on your appetite,” explained Kamath. “You may not be able to enjoy food the way you did before. You might have reduced food intake. That can potentially lead to changes in body weight and changes in your nutritional status.”

But that leaves unexplained more than 70% of the higher mortality associated with poor sense of smell, Chen said.

There are some theories why poor sense of smell might be tied to these deaths, but no real answers, Chen and Kamath said.

People might die in a fire because they can’t smell the smoke, or die from food poisoning because they can’t smell that their meal is off, but “those events are fairly rare to begin with in the general population,” Chen said.

People who eat poorly due to their lost sense of smell might also be at higher risk of developing heart disease, due to malnutrition or by eating unhealthy junk foods that have a vivid taste, Chen added. Or they might have been exposed to some toxic environmental pollution that harmed their ability to smell as well as causing other damage to their bodies.


While these findings are interesting, it’s still too soon to make smell exams part of seniors’ regular checkups, Chen and Kamath agreed.

“I don’t think we’ve done the study yet to show it improves clinical practice,” Kamath said.

Part of that research will involve figuring out what’s behind the unexplained 70% of deaths, Chen said.

“We need to know what those health consequences are before we can make recommendations,” he said.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Honglei Chen, M.D., Ph.D., professor, epidemiology and biostatistics, Michigan State University, East Lansing; Vidyulata Kamath, Ph.D., assistant professor, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore; April 30, 2019,Annals of Internal Medicine

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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Think You Only Smell With Your Nose? You’re Wrong

THURSDAY, April 25, 2019 — A boy who wondered if snakes flick their tongues to smell prompted a surprising new discovery about how human senses work.

Turns out your tongue helps you smell, according to researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia — a team that included the curious 12-year-old’s dad.

Taste and smell had been thought to be independent senses that didn’t interact until input from each reached the brain.

But senior author Dr. Mehmet Hakan Ozdener said his son’s question prompted him to rethink that belief.

Ozdener’s new study found that odor-detecting sensors in the nose (functional olfactory receptors) are also present in the taste cells on our tongue. This suggests that interactions between the senses of smell and taste may begin on the tongue and not in the brain, researchers said.

They said their findings could lead to new ways to modify food flavors to promote healthier eating.

“Our research may help explain how odor molecules modulate taste perception,” Ozdener, a cell biologist, said in a Monell news release. “This may lead to the development of odor-based taste modifiers that can help combat the excess salt, sugar and fat intake associated with diet-related diseases such as obesity and diabetes.”

Results of a series of lab experiments were published April 24 in the journal Chemical Senses.

The distinctive flavor of most foods and drinks comes more from smell than from taste, researchers said. Taste evolved to gauge the nutrient value and potential danger of what people put in their mouths. Smell provides information about the flavor: Is that banana, licorice or cherry? The brain combines that information.

“The presence of olfactory receptors and taste receptors in the same cell will provide us with exciting opportunities to study interactions between odor and taste stimuli on the tongue,” Ozdener said.

As well as providing new insight into how smell and taste interact, this research may also help improve understanding of how the olfactory system detects odors.

The molecules that activate most of the 400 types of functional olfactory receptors in people are unknown.

Researchers hope to learn whether olfactory receptors tend to be located on a specific type of taste cell, such as sweet- or salt-detecting cells.

They’ll also look at how odor molecules modify taste cell responses and our taste perception.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging explains how smell and taste change with age.

© 2019 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Posted: April 2019 – Daily MedNews

UK prison guards smell a rat and find rodents stuffed with drugs

Items found inside dead rats at HMP Guys Marsh in Dorset, Britain, are seen in this picture handout obtained March 25, 2019. Ministry of Justice via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – Suspected organized criminals have been stuffing the bodies of dead rats with drugs, phones and cash and throwing them over the walls of a British prison to get contraband to inmates, the government said on Monday.

Guards at Guys Marsh prison in Dorset, southwest England, grew suspicious when they found the bodies of three rats with long stitches along their stomachs, officials said.

They discovered the animals had been disemboweled and filled with five mobile phones and chargers, three SIM cards, cigarette papers and a large amount of drugs including cannabis and a synthetic substitute as well as tobacco, they added.

“This find shows the extraordinary lengths to which criminals will go to smuggle drugs into prison, and underlines why our work to improve security is so important,” Britain’s prisons minister, Rory Stewart, said.

The government did not say when the rats were found.

Seizures of drugs, mobile phones and SIM cards rose by 23, 15 and 13 percent in the 12 months to March 2018 when just over 20 percent of tests of inmates were positive for drugs, including new psychoactive substances.

Criminals have in the past tried to use tennis balls, pigeons and drones to bring contraband into prisons.

Reporting by Rachel Cordery; Editing by Andrew Heavens

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Aromatherapy: Can You Smell Relief?

Dec. 13, 2018 — Donna Audia, RN, an integrative care nurse at University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, was called to the bedside of a woman who was at the end of her life and had severe nausea. The woman had tried anti-nausea medications, but they weren’t enough. The health care team called Audia to see if she had a complementary or alternative therapy that might help.

“We used pressure points, reiki, music, sound, and then as a last-ditch effort — because nothing was working — I asked her if she’d like to try aromatherapy,” Audia recalls.

The woman hadn’t heard of aromatherapy, but she was willing to try anything. Audia put a few drops of a blend of essential oils on a 2-inch-by-2-inch gauze pad and closed it inside a lidded specimen cup. She told her to uncap the cup, inhale the fragrance, then recap it and repeat as needed.

“Her husband told me that she continued to use it until she died,” Audia says. “I was amazed.”

A growing number of hospitals and clinics offer aromatherapy along with traditional medicine. While formal research into the benefits of aromatherapy poses many challenges, some evidence does suggest that the alternative treatment may ease nausea, anxiety, various types of pain, and other conditions.

What Is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is believed to date back more than 3,500 years to ancient Egypt. The practices use fragrant essential oils, which are pure plant extracts, to remedy numerous ailments. Different oils are recommended for different symptoms.

“If they’re very anxious and just can’t relax, we would give them lavender. If it’s nausea, it would be ginger or spearmint,” says Nancy Rodgers, a certified aromatherapist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

In modern Western health care facilities, aromatherapy is often used in addition to conventional medications, such as anti-nausea drugs and anxiety or pain medications. That’s why it’s called a “complementary” therapy.

You can inhale the fragrance of the essential oil or put a diluted solution on your skin using a compress, spray, bath, or massage. At Mayo, patients get a few drops of the prescribed essential oil on a cotton ball sealed in a zip-top bag. “They just waft it under their nose for about 3 to 5 minutes, then put it away and try it again in about a half-hour,” says Rodgers. “Otherwise they become desensitized to the scent and think it’s not working.”

Practitioners at the University of Maryland Medical Center, in addition to offering oils to inhale on a gauze pad, may apply the oils to the skin as well. “We dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil [such as almond oil or avocado oil that does not have a strong scent of its own] for safety,” says Audia. Pure, undiluted essential oils can irritate the skin.

Some treatments suggest eating essential oils, but health professionals discourage this in the U.S., as essential oils are not regulated under food safety standards. “Essential oils are absolutely not safe to drink,” says Audia. Over the past 5 years, poison control centers have received 83,338 calls about exposure to essential oils, including calls about people who drank the oil, applied too much to their skin, or got it in their eyes. The most common calls by far are about swallowing the oils. Of those exposures, 1,162 resulted in moderate to major effects, such as high fever, disorientation, seizures, or cardiac arrest. Four people died from essential oil exposure.

“We don’t promote ingestion,” says Susanne Cutshall, DNP, a clinical nurse specialist for integrative medicine and health at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. “We just don’t have good research data to support the safety of that.”

Does It Work?

Compared with research on prescription drugs, medical devices, and surgeries, research on aromatherapy — and all complementary and alternative medicine, for that matter — is limited. Studies of aromatherapy in particular pose unique challenges. Plant extracts vary based on where and how the plant is grown and how the oil is processed, packaged, and stored. So it’s difficult to standardize oils for research to ensure that everyone in the study is getting the exact same experience. And, in the end, even with a standardized oil, it’s hard to prove whether it was the aroma itself that caused any changes in the study participants.

But some research shows benefits of the ancient practice.

In an analysis of 12 studies, aromatherapy helped relieve pain. The people who got the most relief from it had acute or temporary pain, for example from an injury; menstrual pain; labor or post-delivery pain; or post-surgery pain. Aromatherapy was less helpful for people with long-term, or chronic, pain. The treatment has also eased anxiety in studies of various patient groups, including burn patients; women awaiting breast biopsy; and patients having dialysis. Some research shows it can lessen post-surgery nausea, too.

Should I Try It at Home?

Experimenting with essential oils on your own at home may not bring the same effects that you could get from a controlled health care setting with a trained professional.

“The difference between clinical and direct-to-consumer use is huge,” says Rodgers. “We know exactly what we are giving our patients and what’s safe. Out in the public, that’s going to be a little looser.”

If you want to buy essential oils for personal use, be an informed consumer. A genuine, unadulterated essential oil comes in a dark bottle. The label should include the following:

  • The plant’s Latin name, such as Lavandula angustifolia for lavender
  • The part of the plant that was used
  • How the oil was extracted; for example, distilled or pressed
  • The country where the plant was grown
  • A purity statement that it is 100% pure essential oil
  • A quality seal, such as GRAS-certified (generally recognized as safe) or USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia).

And trust your nose, says Rodgers, “If it’s supposed to smell like lavender and it doesn’t, then it’s probably not.”

Before you try aromatherapy, “be an informed consumer,” she says. Understand that the best way to inhale or apply essential oils depends on what you want to achieve.

You can inhale the aroma of essential oils via

  • Steam
  • Diffuser
  • A cotton ball
  • Spray

You simultaneously inhale and absorb aroma into your skin via

  • Bath
  • Massage
  • Compress


Donna Audia, RN, integrative care nurse, University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore.

Susanne Cutshall, DNP, clinical nurse specialist for integrative medicine and health, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

Nancy Rodgers, certified aromatherapist, board-certified massage therapist for integrative medicine and health, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN.

Tisserand Institute.

University of Minnesota: “Taking Charge of your Health and Wellbeing: Aromatherapy.”

American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Pain Research and Treatment: “The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy in Reducing Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”

Burns: “Comparing the effects of aromatherapy massage and inhalation aromatherapy on anxiety and pain in burn patients: A single-blind randomized clinical trial.”

Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing: “A Randomized Controlled Trial Provides Evidence to Support Aromatherapy to Minimize Anxiety in Women Undergoing Breast Biopsy.”

Nephro-Urology Monthly: “The Effect of Aromatherapy on Anxiety in Patients.”

Anesthesia and Analgesia: “Aromatherapy as treatment for postoperative nausea: a randomized trial.”

© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

WebMD Health

Ask a Stoner: Does the Smell of Burnt Weed Disappear Faster in the Cold?

Dear Stoner: Does the smell of weed smoke disappear more quickly when it’s cold out? I’m always pushing the line.

Dear Almond: Actually, it disappears faster when it’s warm — but you’re not crazy if you think it’s easier to get away with smoking outside or in a garage when it’s cold out. Odor molecules move more slowly as the air gets colder, so your nose doesn’t pick up as much activity during the winter. (This is also why the smell of garbage or barbecue seems to float through the air so easily in the summer.) On top of that, studies conducted at the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia discovered that olfactory receptors in our nostrils essentially bury themselves deeper when the air gets colder.

So both our noses and the smells they’re looking for are lazier in the winter. Those slow-moving odors can be helpful if you’re trying to blow smoke out the window, but they can also hurt you if there’s nowhere for that burning aroma to go. Don’t get too cocky.

Send questions to

Toke of the Town

Do You Smell What I Smell? Phantom Odors Are Real

Aug. 23, 2018 — Some say they bite into a sandwich that suddenly smells like a burnt cigarette. Others report smelling burnt rubber and can’t figure out where the stench is coming from. In a better-case scenario, the smell of peaches fills their nose 24/7, proving that too much of even a pleasant odor can make you feel a little wacky.

It all may sound like a Saturday Night Live skit in the making.

But doctors and those affected say these phantom odors are real — and troubling. The medical term is phantosmia.

It’s not life-threatening, but there are no reliable treatments, and it can make your life much worse. There isn’t even good information on how many people are walking around asking co-workers or spouses: “What is that smell?”

So the National Institutes of Health nosed into the topic further, concluding that one in 15 Americans have phantosmia.

Most likely affected are women 40 to 60, says lead author Kathleen Bainbridge, PhD, a researcher with the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). The problem is less likely in those 60-plus. In most cases, it tends to go away after a year or less, but while it’s happening, it can be upsetting and distracting.

Survey Details

To get to the one in 15 estimate, Bainbridge and her colleagues used data collected from 2011 through 2014 as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This sample included 7,417 adults ages 40 years and older. They found 534 men and women in the survey were affected. That translates to 6.5% of the U.S. population. The group most likely to be affected: women 40 to 60.

Most people with phantom odor issues, about 89%, don’t broach the problem with their health care provider, the researchers found. Anyone can get this condition, but lower-income people — researchers aren’t sure why that is — as well as those with dry mouth problems or anyone with a history of head injury is more likely to.

As for why more women than men? “Women are more in tune with their chemical world,” says study co-author Donald Leopold, MD, an ear, nose, and throat specialist and professor of surgery at the University of Vermont Medical Center, Burlington. They buy fragranced products more often than men, for instance, he suspects.

The study is published in JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery.

A Patient’s Story

Mike Gonzales, 41, an auto mechanic in Loveland, CO, has had phantom odor issues since 2015, he says. First was the hotel room that he describes as smelling of rotting fast food. “I wrote it off at first that it was just the hotel,” he says. But ”it followed me home.”

Then came the dirty feet smell around the computer desk at home. A dinner his wife prepared smelled burned, but it wasn’t, she assured him. “Around this time, I also started getting a smell of burnt plastic, seemed to be mostly when I’d wake up in the morning.”

The phantom odor affects him at least once a day and sometimes as many as three times, he says. He’s tried nasal sprays and washes, among other suggested remedies, he says, but nothing seems to work. He saw a therapist for a while to deal with the depression that has resulted, he says.

“I’ve been trying to laugh about it some, best way for me to deal with the depression,” he says.

Causes and What to Do

People should mention the phantom odor problem to their health care provider, experts say. It’s been linked with medical conditions such as epileptic seizure, depression, head trauma, and migraine. So ruling those out is wise.

Those affected often try finding the source for days or weeks before seeing their doctor, Leopold says. At that point, any sense of humor about the issue that may have been there originally has dissipated, he says. People want relief. “I’ve had people rip up carpets,” he says, to try to uncover the source of the smell.

“It’s an unrecognized problem,” says Nina Shapiro, MD, a professor of head and neck surgery at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and a co-author of Hype: A Doctor’s Guide to Medical Myths, Exaggerated Claims and Bad Advice. She was not involved in the NIH study.

She understands that people don’t bring it up but agrees they should. “It can certainly affect quality of life.”

The problem is, doctors can’t really say what causes it. “It’s somehow related to airflow,” Leopold says. He has had patients report to him that they wake up without smelling anything unusual. But then they sniff or sneeze, and the odor without a source is back.

“The biologic cause of phantom odor remains unknown,” Bainbridge says. Overactive nerve cells in the nasal cavity may play a role, she says, or something may be miswired with the central nervous system related to how odors are interpreted in the brain. Leopold’s money is on the brain theory.

Some success has been reported, Leopold says, with using anti-seizure medications or antidepressants.

A simple at-home treatment may work, too, he says. Patients get a squeeze bottle and fill it with salt water. They ”get on their hands and knees, forehead to the floor.” They squeeze the bottle to inject saltwater into each nostril. “That will unclog the upper nasal cavity.” And sometimes the phantom odor disappears.

Leopold used to perform an operation to destroy the sense of smell. “I have stopped doing it,” he says. “I don’t think it’s very good therapy.”

Time alone may solve the problem. “I will often advise people to live with it, deal with it,” he says. “It’s a huge hit to their quality of life.”


JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery: “Prevalence and Risk Factors for Olfactory Hallucinations.”

JAMA Otolaryngology — Head & Neck Surgery: “Factors Associated with Phantom Odor Perception Among US Adults.”

Nina Shapiro, MD, professor of head and neck surgery, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Los Angeles.

Donald Leopold, MD, ear, nose, and throat specialist, professor of surgery, University of Vermont Medical Center, Burlington.

Kathleen Bainbridge, PhD, epidemiologist, NIH’s National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

Mike Gonzales, auto mechanic, Loveland, CO.

© 2018 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

WebMD Health

Was It Love at First Smell?

THURSDAY, May 18, 2017 — Beauty isn’t always in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes, it’s in the ears or nose of the beholder, too.

New research indicates that a person’s voice and scent can be just as important as physical appearance in how attractive someone is to others.

The findings — from a review of 30 years of published research — appear in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

“Recently, most reviews have focused on visual attractiveness — for example, face or body attractiveness,” said lead author Agata Groyecka, a researcher at the University of Wroclaw in Poland.

But more research has been done on other senses and their role in social relations, and these findings shouldn’t be neglected, she added.

“Perceiving others through all three channels gives a more reliable and broader variety of information about them,” Groyecka said in a journal news release.

Along with gender and age, a person’s voice can reveal a wide range of traits, including dominance, cooperativeness, emotional state and even body size.

And recent research has shown that scent can also reveal similar types of information.

Groyecka suggested a number of evolutionary explanations for these different aspects of attraction, such as the usefulness of having traits that can be detected both from a distance (voice and looks), as well as up close (scent).

More information

The American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery explains how the voice works.

Posted: May 2017 – Daily MedNews

Medical Marijuana is Legal in Arizona, but ‘Pot Smell’ can Justify a Search

Despite the fact it is legal to consume and grow medical marijuana in Arizona, the state’s Supreme Court has ruled it is okay for law enforcement to use the smell of marijuana as probable cause for a search of someone’s premises. Essentially, the police can come into your house or look inside your car if they claim to have smelled marijuana, even though it could very well be legal. Great.

Police searches were conducted in 2013 based on the presence of marijuana odor, and one involved police getting a search warrant for a storage space they claimed smelled like weed. Inside, they found a growing operation. Another case involved police searching a guy’s car when they smelled marijuana.

The court stated Arizona’s medical marijuana law “did not decriminalize the possession or use of marijuana generally.” Basically, since not everyone can get medical marijuana, because you have to have a specific condition, police can search anything based on smell.

“A reasonable officer is therefore justified in concluding that such sight or smell is indicative of criminal activity, and thus probable cause exists,” the court said.

What was not addressed, however, is how the police might use a claimed “pot smell” to justify searching any damn house they want to search. If we’ve learned anything from the War on Drugs, marijuana is often used as an excuse to look for something else.

[Photo by Wikimedia/U.S. Army Materiel Command]

The 420 Times

Love is in the armpit at New York’s Smell Dating

Love at first whiff is the idea behind Smell Dating, a New York matchmaking service that promises to help single people sniff out their perfect match by breathing in the odors from dirty T-shirts.

Artist Tega Brain, who teaches at New York’s School for Poetic Computation, and Sam Lavigne, an editor and researcher at New York University, created Smell Dating, which they describe as an art project.

Each of its first 100 clients received a T-shirt to wear for three days straight without bathing. The clients then mailed the T-shirts back to Brain and Lavigne’s “Sweat Shop” at NYU, where they were cut into swatches. Smell Dating then sent batches of 10 mixed swatches back to the clients to sniff this week.

A match will be made if one client likes the scent of another and the olfactory attraction is mutual. In other words, if “Client 55” likes “Client 69” and vice versa, put a heart around it, Brain said.

The idea is based on the science of pheromones, the chemical signals that creatures from gerbils to giraffes send out to entice mates.

Clients, who pay a one-time fee of $ 25, dive in nose-first, unaware of a potential smell-mate’s age, gender or sexual orientation.

“Most normal dating services, you rely on profile pictures, assumptions that come from visual information,” Brain said. “You either really like the smell of someone or you don’t. It’s much more innate.”

On Wednesday, 25-year-old NYU graduate student Jesse Donaldson excitedly opened the package of white swatches in individually numbered plastic bags that had arrived at his apartment in Brooklyn.

He said he hoped Smell Dating could help where other popular matchmaking services had failed.

“I’m like so many other people in New York City, using Tinder, using OK Cupid,” Donaldson said, “and my main issue with these things is you feel like you’re shopping for somebody as opposed to making a genuine connection with another human being.”

Brain said she and Lavigne consulted “a lot of smell researchers” about their art project, which explores whether a person’s body odor can trigger Cupid’s arrow.

“We wanted to see if people would be interested in meeting other people just based on this one bit of information rather than this avalanche of information that you usually get,” said Lavigne as he watched volunteers wearing hooded white jumpsuits and blue rubber gloves cut up the worn T-shirts at the Sweat Shop.

“Whoa! This one is ready to go!” said a worker, wincing as he sniffed a swatch before putting it into a plastic bag marked #34.

In Brooklyn, Donaldson tore into the first plastic bag, removed the swatch and sniffed. “Fresh-done laundry,” he said.

He opened another and inhaled. “Oh. That is nutty. I’m just going to seal that back up.”

Then he brought yet another swatch to his nostrils, nodded and said, “Oh.” He savored a second whiff and added, “That’s my match.”

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg and Angela Moore; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Lisa Von Ahn)

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Failing Sense of Smell May Be Alzheimer’s Warning

As the ability to identify odors goes, so does mental ability, researchers say

WebMD News from HealthDay

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Nov. 16, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Losing your sense of smell may mark the start of memory problems and possibly Alzheimer’s disease, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that older adults who had the worst smell test scores were 2.2 times more likely to begin having mild memory problems. And if they already had these memory problems, they were more likely to progress to full-blown Alzheimer’s disease, said lead researcher Rosebud Roberts, a professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

“The findings suggest that doing a smell test may help identify elderly, mentally normal people who are likely to progress to develop memory problems or, if they have these problems, to progress to Alzheimer’s dementia,” Roberts said.

“Physicians need to recognize that this may be a possible screening tool that can be used in the clinic,” she added.

But Roberts also cautioned that the findings do not apply to people who have always had difficulty with smell because of chronic respiratory tract conditions.

The report was published online Nov. 16 in JAMA Neurology.

Roberts theorized that, as dementia begins and progresses, the parts of the brain that distinguish odors start to deteriorate.

For the study, she and her and colleagues collected data on more than 1,400 mentally normal adults who were an average of 79 years old.

Over an average of 3.5 years of follow-up, 250 people developed memory problems (mild cognitive impairment). In addition, 64 among 221 people with the most serious memory problems developed dementia, the findings showed.

The smell test included six food-related and six nonfood-related scents (banana, chocolate, cinnamon, gasoline, lemon, onion, paint thinner, pineapple, rose, soap, smoke and turpentine), according to the study.

As the inability to identify smells increased, so did the likelihood of increasing memory problems and Alzheimer’s disease, Roberts said.

However, the association seen in the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. And no link was found between a decreased sense of smell and other thinking problems associated with mild cognitive impairment, the researchers reported.

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Could Unique Smell Pinpoint Parkinson’s?

By Peter Russell
WebMD Health News

Oct. 22, 2015 — Scientists are investigating whether it may be possible for doctors to diagnose Parkinson’s disease by smell.

Their study stems from the case of 65-year-old Joy Milne, a retired Scottish nurse who claims to have detected the onset of the disease in her husband when his smell changed. Milne has since been dubbed a “super-smeller” by the media after she went on to identify people with Parkinson’s by smelling T-shirts they’d slept in.

Although the idea might sound far-fetched, previous research has focused on whether some diseases, like cancer and diabetes, might be detectable by smell.

Testing the ‘Super-Smellers’

The study, funded by the charity Parkinson’s UK, will focus on changes in the sebum — an oily substance in the skin — of people with the condition. The changes seem to result in a unique and subtle odor on the skin noticeable only to people with an acute sense of smell.

Scientists at the Universities of Manchester and Edinburgh have chosen 24 people like Milne for a study into their abilities.

Professor Perdita Barran and her team from the University of Manchester will use state-of-the-art technology to analyze skin swabs taken from people with and without Parkinson’s. They’ll then extract and identify small molecule components taken from the skin to identify specific signs found in Parkinson’s.

They’ll also compare the ability of the so-called “super-smellers” to detect this change of smell.

Barran hopes the results of the study might lead to the development of a test that may be able to diagnose Parkinson’s in its early stages, “possibly even before physical symptoms occur.”

“It’s very early days in the research,” says Dr. Arthur Roach, director of research at Parkinson’s UK, “but if it’s proved there is a unique odor associated with Parkinson’s, particularly early on in the condition, it could have a huge impact. Not just on early diagnosis, but it would also make it a lot easier to identify people to test drugs that may have the potential to slow, or even stop Parkinson’s, something no current drug can achieve.”

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