In this blog, I want to share some information with you about how to balance the sense of smell according to ayurveda.
Sense of smell according to Ayurveda
In ayurveda, we understand that the sense of smell is governed by the element of earth. So what do we mean by this? When we smell something, tiny little molecules (or particles) in the air travel up through the nose. Once they come into contact with the receptors, we create our sense of smell from the pathways beyond that.
Modern perspective on the sense of smell
From a modern perspective, we understand that there are millions of smell receptors found on a stamp sized piece of tissue at the back of the nose. This is known as the olfactory epithelium. When the tiny little molecules in the air come into contact with it, they send signals to our brain to interpret as a smell.
It is understood that there are trillions of smells that, as humans, we can smell. No two humans will perceive a smell in the same way; we all smell things slightly differently, and this is because our interpretation of that process is unique to the individual.
Sense of smell is really important. As we know, it is one of our five senses, which are all about collecting and gathering information that comes into our filters. We put all this data together and we can create an experience of life. Therefore, our smell is a fifth of the experience of life that we can have!
Therefore, in Ayurveda, we understand that we really want to take care of our sense of smell, to love it, to nourish it, and to treat it well. We don’t want to abuse it.
Avoid the misuse of the sense of smell
In Ayurveda, we have this concept of Prajnaparadha, which basically stands for “the misuse of the intellect” (or we can say, “the misuse of the senses” which is known as Asatmendriyartha samyoga).
So, for the first instance, we would try to avoid any over exposure of strong smells. We all know that it is not good to expose ourselves to an excess of solvents or strong chemical smells. Therefore, if we are working with anything like that, it is important that we put a mask on to protect our sense of smell.
Also, we should use our sense of smell as a pleasing thing. So, to make sure that we encounter pleasing things in our life, whether it’s through flowers, or maybe nature.
What can we do to protect our sense of smell?
Ayurveda takes this one step further. While we should look at what we can do to prevent and not lose our sense of smell, we can also consider what we can do to protect the membranes; to make sure that our olfactory epithelium is clear and able to receive the millions of molecules which travel up with our breath.
Ayurveda suggests a whole routine we can do to keep our sense of smell really vital and really clear. If we want to, we can daily apply something up into the nasal passages to help to clear it and keep it well nourished. The most simple thing that we can use is some ghee.
What we would do is get a clean instrument, such as a spoon, into the ghee and take some out. Next, using a very clean and well kept little finger (with nails filed down), we would take some ghee and apply it in and around the inside of the nostrils. This helps to keep the skin and the membranes really soft and really clear. What’s more, as we then breathe in, some of those particles are going to travel upwards and create a nice barrier in and around there.
We can go one step further. We can introduce things deliberately into the nasal passages. Please note: I would recommend, if any of this appeals to you, that you find a local practitioner and discuss what is best for you, as well as when and how is best to do it. This blog is only for informational purposes, not instructional purposes. This is simply a guide to see what we can do.
We can get lots of different medicated oils and we can apply these. A very popular example in Ayurveda is called Anu Tailam Nasal Oil. It is quite a strong and heating oil, and you can feel it particularly in the throat once it drains down after you use it. I would also recommend this Maharishi Nasal Spray. It is really good as it has a pump for easy application straight up into the nose.
In the UK, I found this Sinuforce Nasal Spray. This works on the idea of the Neti Pot, as used in yoga, where we put salt water and pour it up and over from one nostril to another. It is a saline solution, but they have also rather smartly added some eucalyptus, chamomile and peppermint oils.
The idea with any of these oils is that they help to keep the mucosal discharge in the nasal passages really well balanced, to clean and clear the passages, and also to oleate them, to keep those mucus membranes nice and soft and in tip top condition.
If you really want to go to town on it, you can give yourself a whole Nasya treatment. Take some oil and gently massage around the sinuses, and then take a heated towel and place it on your forehead and under your eyes. Then you can apply the herbal oil.
The oils are really fantastic, especially in the winter when there is extra production of mucus and you want to keep the respiratory pathways really clear. There is a whole wonderful world of oils out there to support you, so I would definitely recommend giving them some research!