Alzheimers

My Daughter Asks Me About Memory Smell Connections I Life Essentially Aroma Coach

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Memory Smell Connections


My daughter says to me: "What if you can't smell... didn't you say that your memories are tied to smells?" The answer isn't so easy. The fact the fragrance cannot be detected does not mean that the other pathways to the brain are limited. I have known many people that swear that they cannot smell and yet they swear that the calming, stimulating or other benefits of aromatherapy is still helping them.

What is loss of smell? It's call anosmia if it's a complete loss of smell. Hyposmia is the partial loss of smell. Most people with anosmia can recognize salty, sweet, sour, and bitter substances but cannot tell the difference between specific flavors. The ability to tell the difference between flavors actually depends on smell, not the taste receptors on the tongue. Therefore, people with anosomia often complain of losing their sense of taste and of not enjoying food.

My mother was in a random car accident several years ago. She was waiting for a car to pull out from a curb parking stall. A woman ran into the back of her car doing about 35 mph because she just wasn't paying attention. The one change was that my mom couldn't remember things, but she suddenly could smell things. I find this so odd and have to wonder what the accident did to correct the one cranial nerve and complicate the other?

At some point after having kids my mom's sense of smell vanished. I read once that your neck is the "switch", nerves are the "power cords" and your headache is where the "light" comes on. Radiologists are starting to think about the fact that the nose lies within the field of radiotherapy of the head and neck, and the olfactory fibers and olfactory receptors may be affected during treatment. So what if you have impacted that sense of smell, what does it do? 


Olfactory (smell nerve) cells are stimulated by the odors around us—the fragrance from a rose, the smell of bread baking. These nerve cells are found in a tiny patch of tissue high up in the nose, and they connect directly to the brain.
What this smell, olfactory sense, seems to be connected to is perhaps dopamine levels. We've seen many studies and medical journals recently talking about this impaired sense of smell, and they believe it is one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and some other neurodegenerative diseases which are often classified as showing a decline in the dopamine receptors in our brain. With Parkinson's they've done post mortem test and confirmed shrinkage of the olfactory bulb. What happens, they think, it that there is 100% increase of dopaminergic cells in the olfactory bulb. Dopamine depresses synaptic inputs into the olfactory bulb decreasing the sense of smell. 


My Daughter Asks Me About Memory Smell Connections I Life Essentially I Ameo Essential Oils

When a woman smells the scent of a newborn baby those dopamine areas of our brains just light up! Does that decrease our ability to smell? I can tell you that almost every new mom that I know has no problem with changing her brand sparkling new baby's nappy, and yet the dad runs as fast as he can. So maybe?
I read that 1,8-cineole increase dopamine release in the brain, so Rosemary Essential oil could be a great aromatherapy support during the day. Evaluation of the effects of lavender essential oil on motor activity and its relationship to dopaminergic neurotransmission revealed that intraperitoneal application of lavender significantly increased rotarod activity and enhanced dopamine receptors subtype D3 in the olfactory bulbs of mice. Now remember that this all has to do with regulation, and there is a lot of big unknowns that smarter people than myself will have to dig into as they continue our research. 

Our d
opamine is made in the body from amino acids, those building blocks of protein. This is something that is simple to understand. So perhaps supplementing with moringa oleifera could have nutritional benefits that would help support our systems before we get to that point.

Ask your doctor if they think any of this will help in support your goals in a complementary manner. I love incorporating the latest studies on natural therapies with a treatment plan when it works. Don't you? I am not a doctor, and so none of this is meant to treat, diagnose, cure or anything else other than just some research I did for my homeschooler when she asked a very interesting question.

So when my daughter asks if you can't smell can you use lose your memories, it is truly a very complicated discussion that maybe could have saved me a lot of time if I just would have said, "Perhaps." 

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