A Very Potent Route into the Mind – Olfaction

 

Olfaction is a vital component in early bonding of child with parent, and allows us be “oriented in our surroundings”, and a source of great aesthetic pleasure. Olfaction can be lost by certain kinds of physical trauma, and often by degenerative brain disease. In addition, parental olfaction can influence behavior in subsequent generations – apparently through epigenetic mechanisms.

Olfaction is impaired in illnesses that occur in the developmental years: attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Olfaction can become less intense in our later years, but is also less intense during the developmental years. In 2014 Doty reported: “Decreased olfactory function is very common in the older population, being present in over half of those between the ages of 65 and 80 years and in over three quarters of those over the age of 80 years. Such dysfunction significantly influences physical well-being and quality of life, nutrition, the enjoyment of food, as well as everyday safety. Indeed a disproportionate number of the elderly die in accident gas poisonings each year.”

Olfaction can also become impaired in multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease.

There is little treatment available. In 2013 Moon reported on a relatively small study of 40 patients: “In conclusion, Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) is a simple, safe, long-lasting, and effective therapeutic modality for olfactory dysfunction patients, such as those with anosmia and hyposmia.”