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January 03, 2008

Too Much Perfume may indicate Depression

Can’t smell the roses? Maybe you’re depressed. Smell too much like a rose yourself? Maybe you’ve got the same problem. Scientists from Tel Aviv University recently linked depression to a biological mechanism that affects the olfactory glands. It might explain why some women, without realizing it, wear too much perfume.

This according to research at Tel Aviv University reported in Science Daily that suggests that depressed women are also losing their sense of smell, and may use more perfume to overcompensate.

It appears that an autoimmune mechanism may be responsible:

In lupus patients and those with other autoimmune diseases, a particle known as an “autoantibody” attacks the person’s own immune system, appearing in the human body as an aberrant reaction to autoimmune diseases. This particle “is a real novelty,” says Prof. [Yehuda] Shoenfeld. “We have found that, when generated, it weakens a person’s sense of smell and can induce the feeling of depression.”

Unfortunately the original study wasn't cited. By some creative Googling, I was able to trace it back to the original press release (substantially the same as the Science Daily article) and eventually to this study published in the Journal of Autoimmunity, and to another study in Autoimmunity Reviews from 2006  that looks at the relationship between brain illnesses and olfaction. The latter study suggests that deterioration of the sense of smell may be used in the prediction of brain illnesses, and a number of other links from the abstract lead to other olfaction studies.

The Science Daily article and the press release mention the use of aromatherapy in the retail industry to change moods and encourage sales. Professor Schoenfeld suggests that this research may help change attitudes towards aromatherapy.

“I think that science is able to show that aromatherapy might not be just for quacks. After all, some of these remedies have been used since the time of the Egyptians to treat organic diseases.”

Posted by Rob on January 3, 2008 in Aromatherapy, Organizations, Research | Permalink

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