Your Skin Has a Sense of Smell, and Sandalwood Aroma Makes it Heal

Ready for some weird science? Some of the same olfactory sensing equipment that give your nose its sense of smell can be found in your skin cells. In other words, your skin has a sense of smell. And researchers have just figured out that your skin loves the scent of sandalwood—in fact, the aroma revs up your skin's natural healing abilities.

This strange and unusual finding comes from recent research at Germany's Ruhr University Bochum. There, Dr. Hanns Hatt and his team isolated skin cells and tested different scents on them to see how they reacted.

Turns out, your skin really perks up to the smell of Sandalore, a powerful synthetic sandalwood scent used in aromatherapy and spa pampering products. Presented with the fragrance, the skin odor receptors triggered a 32 percent boost in cell division, while cell migration jumped up by half. In other words, the skin generated more new, healthy cells, and sent them running to where they were needed.

Don't go running to Bed Bath and Beyond just yet, though: the researchers say that the concentration of Sandalore that triggered the healing effect was 1,000 times higher than the amount needed for your nose to detect the fragrance. That's a lot. And just like different people's noses have different sensitivities to odors, the skin effect will doubtless be very different from person to person.

Still, it's a fascinating finding, and one that could help our understanding of how the body works on the larger scale: the scent receptors that power your nose can also be found in the tissue that makes up your heart, lungs, and digestive organs. Figuring out how these scent receptors work in those far-flung places could open up all kinds of crazy new medical capabilities.

Maybe those aromatherapy quacks are on to something after all. [New Scientist via PBS]

Image: Shutterstock / Mark Skalny