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Aromachology is the study of the influence of odors on human behavior and to examine the relationship between feelings and emotions. Those who practice aromachology are aromachologists. Aromachologists analyze emotions such as relaxation, exhilaration, sensuality, happiness and well-being brought about by odors stimulating the olfactory pathways in the brain and, in particular, the limbic system. [1] Different wearers are thought to have unique physiological and psychological responses to scents, especially those not manufactured synthetically but based on real scents. [2] The word "aromachology" is derived from "aroma" and "physio-psychology", the latter being the study of aroma. [3] This term was coined in 1989 by what is now the Sense of Smell Institute (SSI), a division of The Fragrance Foundation. [4] The SSI defines aromachology as 'a concept based on systematic, scientific data collected under controlled conditions'. The term is defined as the scientifically observable influence of smell on emotions and moods. Consumers use aromachology to alleviate time pressures, for relaxation or stimulation and as a component of other activities that generate a feeling of well-being. [5]


Although certain plants are known through studies in aromatherapy to have stimulating or relaxing effects, research on wider scopes of application for therapeutic purposes are still at an early stage. Aromachology devotees want to find out how psychological effects are transmitted from scent to the brain, as well as how positive behavioral effects can be induced by scent. [4] Maria Lis-Bachin, author of Aromatherapy Science: a Guide for Healthcare Professionals, notes an overlap between the objectives of aromatherapy and those of aromachology. [4] However, despite this apparent overlapping, academic authors believe that they are distinct branches of research and application, with each having its own research methods and directions. [1]

The aims of aromachology are to “study the interrelationship of psychology and the latest in fragrance technology and to transmit through odor a variety of specific feelings (such as relaxation, exhilaration, sensuality, happiness and achievement) directly to the brain. [6]

Aromatherapy vs. Aromachology

The history of aromatherapy goes back to Ancient Egypt. People for years have used essential oils to treat their psychological and physical well-being. In Ancient Egypt, people used essential oils for cosmetic and medicinal products. Civilizations from around the globe also used aromatherapy for therapeutic purposes. The term aromatherapy dates from the 20th century when French chemist Jean-Maurice Gattefosse rediscovered the healing powers of lavender's essential oil by trying to relieve a severe burn. Aromatherapy requires the incorporation of essential oils and plant-based essentials for therapeutic and holistic process assuring the well-being of the mind and body. [7]

On the other hand, Aromachology is the term The Fragrance Foundation and the Sense of Smell Institute, both based in New York, assigned in 1989 [5] to the concern about the scents and the psyche behavior because of odors. Aromachology is a relatively new science that explores positive feelings induced by odors far from any holistic or healing process. The term also covers, both, natural and synthetic scents. The term aromachology is sometimes mistaken by companies with several other terms such as "essential oils" or "aromatherapy" as marketing phrases. The products shouldn't be labeled other than aromachology because they do not offer healing or holistic benefits. [7]

Aromachology and human behavior

Studies have been conducted to show that those parts of the brain which govern alertness and concentration can be influenced positively or negatively by the olfactory substances used. Jasmine in a testing room enhanced the problem-solving cognitive skills of participants and also led to them demonstrating more interest and motivation for the task at hand. [8] A combination of eucalyptus, peppermint oil and ethanol has been shown to improve cognitive performance, and after a monotonous stressful task experimental subjects were shown to demonstrate greater motivation after being exposed to a blend of peppermint, bergamot, sandalwood and lavender. [8]

A Journal of Society of Cosmetic Chemists of Japan in 1992 [9] realized a study to show how humans behave based on the scent they are exposed to. On the study, the effect of odor on cardiac response patterns was investigated on human subjects during a period of two-stimulus paradigm in a simple reaction time task. During the experiment changes in the cardiac response pattern were obvious and heart rate deceleration reflecting the process of anticipation or attention. Olfactory stimulation was provided to the subjects with different aromatic air samples with a 5-second rest period, followed by a 20-second olfactory stimulus period. It was concluded that the odor of lemon, traditionally thought to be stimulative, had the effect of activating anticipation or attention process. The effect of activating the anticipation or attention process was stronger when the odor intensity was more concentrated. On the other hand, the rose odor initially was thought to be sedative, had the effect of suppressing that process. [9]

Mechanisms of action

When odors activate the olfactory pathways that lead to the limbic portion of the brain they trigger the release of neurotransmitters that affect the brain and mental state of the individual in a variety of ways. Stimuli transmitted to the limbic system cannot be consciously blocked, so all olfactory stimuli influence our emotions.[ citation needed ] Smell has not been studied in as much depth as vision and hearing. The brain is able to process small differences in smell and the sense of smell may last longer in the aging process than sight and hearing. [10]

Commercial application of aromachology

From the point of view of creating a scent for the body, a number of aromachology practitioners and small companies interested in aromachology are focused on creating bespoke perfumes for individuals who are less interested in purchasing the same fragrances that every other person is wearing and more inclined to wearing a perfume tailored precisely to their own preferences, memories and scent matches. [11] Some cosmetic brands such as Shiseido and Décléor are devoting substantial efforts to the task of finding out the beneficial properties of aromas on our sense of well-being and health. Shiseido currently has a skincare line called "The Skincare" that uses aromachology in their products. [ citation needed ]

Broader applications for aromachology are found in industries that introduce scent into products other than cosmetics or perfumes. Aromachology is considered to also encompass scents introduced to home fragrances, textiles, drawer liners and odor reducers for the home environment. [1]


Aromachologists work with essential oils for their aromatic and physical effects and are experts in the way essential oils can be blended to create “behavioral fragrances” [12] to establish the positive effects of aromas on human behavior including feelings and emotions.

Pleasant aromas cause people to linger longer, a boon to retail stores, museums, spas and casinos. Pleasant smells have been shown to improve productivity, and improve physical performance, with athletes running faster, doing more pushups, and experiencing shorter recovery time after an extensive workout when the room was scented with either peppermint or lemon. [13]

By blending specific smells, an aromachologist can create a more restful environment and improve health conditions. A study in 1987 [14] showed that the smells found in nutmeg oil, maize extract, neroli oil, valerian oil, myristici, soelemcin and elemicin reduce stress in humans as well as reducing stress-related high blood pressure. The Mind Lab, an independent consultancy in the UK, studies the odor of a building as part of research on the brain's responses to stimuli. [15] Real estate brokers have been recommending to their clients to have smells of freshly baked cookies or the aroma of coffee in the house when it is being presented to potential buyers to create a sense of home. By bottling and releasing appropriate smells to evoke comfort, safety and joy, an owner may be able to accelerate the sale of a house.

Worker productivity can be enhanced by improving the quality of air in a building, not just by removing the negative pollutants, but also by introducing through ventilation or air conditioning systems olfactory stimulation]s to get a mix of ventilated air and odor.

It is necessary to ensure that the dosage is such that the odor is not excessive and should be kept just above the detection level. Also, these olfactory substances are very different from perfume and should instead replicate the smell of natural outdoor air. [14]

A skilled aromachologist can concoct combinations of oils to reduce road rage, reduce fatigue and improve concentration while driving.[ citation needed ] Peppermint decreases anxiety and fatigue while driving, and in combination with cinnamon it reduces the level of frustration encountered in traffic and also heightens alertness.[ citation needed ]

Jasmine is used as a sleep aid and the scent of vanilla is useful for those who want to cut the craving for sweets after lunch. [16]

Related Research Articles

Perfume mixture used to produce a pleasant smell

Perfume is a mixture of fragrant essential oils or aroma compounds, fixatives and solvents, used to give the human body, animals, food, objects, and living-spaces an agreeable scent. It is usually in liquid form and used to give a pleasant scent to a person's body. Ancient texts and archaeological excavations show the use of perfumes in some of the earliest human civilizations. Modern perfumery began in the late 19th century with the commercial synthesis of aroma compounds such as vanillin or coumarin, which allowed for the composition of perfumes with smells previously unattainable solely from natural aromatics alone.

Essential oil Hydrophobic liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants

An essential oil is a concentrated hydrophobic liquid containing volatile chemical compounds from plants. Essential oils are also known as volatile oils, ethereal oils, aetherolea, or simply as the oil of the plant from which they were extracted, such as oil of clove. An essential oil is "essential" in the sense that it contains the "essence of" the plant's fragrance—the characteristic fragrance of the plant from which it is derived. The term "essential" used here does not mean indispensable or usable by the human body, as with the terms essential amino acid or essential fatty acid, which are so called because they are nutritionally required by a given living organism.

Olfactory system part of the sensory system used for smelling

The olfactory system, or sense of smell, is the sensory system used for smelling (olfaction). Olfaction is one of the special senses, that have directly associated specific organs. Most mammals and reptiles have a main olfactory system and an accessory olfactory system. The main olfactory system detects airborne substances, while the accessory system senses fluid-phase stimuli.

Smell-O-Vision was a system that released odor during the projection of a film so that the viewer could "smell" what was happening in the movie. The technique was created by Hans Laube and made its only appearance in the 1960 film Scent of Mystery, produced by Mike Todd Jr., son of film producer Mike Todd. The process injected 30 odors into a movie theater's seats when triggered by the film's soundtrack.

Aroma compound chemical compound that has a smell or odor

An aroma compound, also known as an odorant, aroma, fragrance, or flavor, is a chemical compound that has a smell or odor. For a chemical compound to have a smell or odor it must be sufficiently volatile to be transported to the olfactory system in the upper part of the nose.

Fragrance oil(s), also known as aroma oils, aromatic oils, and flavor oils, are blended synthetic aroma compounds or natural essential oils that are diluted with a carrier like propylene glycol, vegetable oil, or mineral oil.

Parosmia is a dysfunction with smell detection that is characterized by the inability of the brain to properly identify an odor's "natural" smell. What happens instead, is that the natural odor is transcribed into what is most often described as an unpleasant aroma, typically a "'burned,' 'rotting,' 'fecal,' or 'chemical' smell". The term is from the Greek παρά pará and ὀσμή osmḗ. There are rare instances, however, of pleasant odors; this is more specifically called euosmia (Greek).

Olfactory fatigue, also known as odor fatigue, olfactory adaptation, and noseblindness, is the temporary, normal inability to distinguish a particular odor after a prolonged exposure to that airborne compound. For example, when entering a restaurant initially the odor of food is often perceived as being very strong, but after time the awareness of the odor normally fades to the point where the smell is not perceptible or is much weaker. After leaving the area of high odor, the sensitivity is restored with time. Anosmia is the permanent loss of the sense of smell, and is different from olfactory fatigue.

Rachel Sarah Herz American-Canadian psychologist

Rachel Sarah Herz is a Canadian and American psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist, recognized for her research on the psychology of smell.

Sandalwood oil oil derived from Santalum album or Santulum spicatum

Sandalwood oil is an essential oil obtained from the steam distillation of chips and billets cut from the heartwood of various species of sandalwood trees.

Odor Volatilized chemical compounds that humans and animals can perceive by their sense of smell

An odor or odour is caused by one or more volatilized chemical compounds that are generally found in low concentrations that humans and animals can perceive by their sense of smell. An odor is also called a "smell" or a "scent", which can refer to either a pleasant or an unpleasant odor.

Olfaction Sense that detects odors

Olfaction is a chemoreception that, through the sensory olfactory system, forms the perception of smell. Olfaction has many purposes, such as the detection of hazards, pheromones, and food.

Aromatherapy Pseudoscience

Aromatherapy is a pseudoscience based on the usage of aromatic materials, including essential oils, and other aroma compounds, with claims for improving psychological or physical well-being. It is offered as a complementary therapy or as a form of alternative medicine, the first meaning alongside standard treatments, the second instead of conventional, evidence-based treatments.

Odour is sensory stimulation of the olfactory membrane of the nose by a group of molecules. Certain body odours are connected to human sexual attraction. Humans can make use of body odour subconsciously to identify whether a potential mate will pass on favourable traits to their offspring. Body odour may provide significant cues about the genetic quality, health and reproductive success of a potential mate. Body odour affects sexual attraction in a number of ways including through human biology, the menstrual cycle and fluctuating asymmetry. The olfactory membrane plays a role in smelling and subconsciously assessing another human's pheromones. It also affects the sexual attraction of insects and mammals. The major histocompatibility complex genes are important for the immune system, and appear to play a role in sexual attraction via body odour. Studies have shown that body odor is strongly connected with heterosexual females. The women in the study ranked body odor as more important for attraction than “looks”. Humans may not simply depend on visual and verbal senses to be attracted to a possible partner/mate.

Fragrance wheel

A fragrance wheel, variously called an aroma wheel, a fragrance circle, a perfume wheel or a smell wheel, is a round diagram showing the inferred relationships among olfactory groups based upon similarities and differences in their odor. The groups bordering one another are implied to share common olfactory characteristics. Fragrance wheels are frequently used as a classification tool in oenology and perfumery.

Sensory branding is a type of marketing that appeals to all the senses in relation to the brand. It uses the senses to relate with customers on an emotional level. Brands can forge emotional associations in the customers' minds by appealing to their senses. A multi-sensory brand experience generates certain beliefs, feelings, thoughts and opinions to create a brandgon image in the consumer's mind.

Bergamot essential oil cold-pressed essential oil

Bergamot essential oil is a cold-pressed essential oil produced by cells inside the rind of a bergamot orange fruit. It is a common flavoring and top note in perfumes. The scent of bergamot essential oil is similar to a sweet light orange peel oil with a floral note.

Aroma lamp

Aroma lamps, or diffusers, are used to diffuse essential oils in aromatherapy and esoterics.

Beard oil is a cosmetic product for men, that is used to nourish the skin under the beard, as well as the beard itself in order to keep it "soft, shiny, and smooth". Beard oil mimics the natural oils produced by skin, such as sebum, and is composed mainly of carrier oils and essential oils.


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