Just remember that studies have shown that the sense of smell can change and improve, and that it can be trained and developed with exposure to odours, as expert perfumers will testify. Good luck!
Using Essential Oils
Once you are comfortable with the routine of smell training and if you want to develop and increase the range of smells, you might want to invest in some essential oils. Again, basing the training on the research, it is important to have diversity in your choices of oils and use smells you like and are familar with. This page provides you with support to help you smell train including a video from Fifth Sense ambassador, Frauke Galia, sharing her top tips on how to smell train using essential oils.
What you need:
- Different essential oils. Lemon, rose, clove and eucalyptus are the four smells used in many of the published research studies but you should choose smells you recognise and enjoy e.g peppermint, orange, lavender etc. You can obtain them online or from aromatherapy stores
- You will need empty glass jars with lids (clean glass spice or baby food jars are ideal), some cotton pads, fragrance strips or some blank nasal inhalers with cotton wicks.
If creating your own jars, pour a small amount of the essential oil into the jar and allow for an airspace over the liquid for the odour vapour to build up and improve the ability of the volatile odour molecules. Or you can put a few drops onto a small piece of absorbent paper and put that into the jar. Keep the lid screwed on in between training sessions and store in the fridge or similar cool place.
You will need to label or write on the jar the scent you are using in each one.
If you choose to use cotton pads, fragrance strips or nasal inhalers pour a few droplets of one of the oils on to the pad/strip/cotton wick and allow the fragrance to develop for a few minutes.
However, you are training using essential oils, for best results:
- Hold the first jar, pad or fragrance strip up to your nose, about an inch away – the order in which you smell the oils does not matter. With an inhaler stick, place the cotton wick into the tube and insert the tube into your nose.
- Relax and slowly and gently, inhale naturally – sniffing too quickly and deeply is likely to result in you not being able to detect anything
- Repeat 2 or 3 more times, then rest for five minutes
- Move on to the next smell and repeat as above.
- When you have finished, ensure the jar is screwed tightly shut and is stored in the fridge or cool place so the oil can be reused. If you are using an inhaler stick, dispose of the used wick and clean the tube thoroughly with soap and water.
Five Tips for Smell Training Using Essential Oils with Frauke Galia
Frauke Galia is an educator, lecturer, Certified Aromatherapist and founder of FALK Aromatherapy, an online resource for harnessing the sense of smell for well-being and joy with 20 years experience in the scent industry working with such organisations as the prestigious house Firmenich.
- Smell train at least twice every day, ideally morning and evening
- Relax and inhale naturally
- Don’t sniff too hard or for too long…10 seconds for each smell is enough
- Try smelling other things too – spices, flowers, fragrance, anything that’s safe to smell!
- And try to stick with it. If you cannot smell anything at first do not be disheartened. Everyone is different, and we’ve heard from people who have tried this process themselves and have experienced varying degrees of success. For some people it can take weeks or even longer before they detect anything and some people may not get any benefit from it at all, but it is worth trying.
Smell Training Q&A
Many of the smell training research studies have used the same four smells – lemon, rose, clove and eucalyptus. However there’s no evidence to say these are the ‘right’ smells to use. You could certainly start with these, and change them regularly – see the next question. Choosing smells that you are familiar with and have memories of is a good idea. You can also use your other senses to help and use every opportunity to smell train whenever you can – when you eat an orange, use your senses of touch and sight to help you to recall memories, when you go for a walk, enjoy the breeze and look at the detail of the flowers whilst you take a sniff. All of this will help your regular, more formal smell training.
One group of participants in the 2015 ‘Modified Olfactory Training’ study (see main page text) changed to a different set of four smells every twelve weeks. The study suggests that this can potentially enhance success rates (note that the study was focused on people with post-viral olfactory loss).