Friday, October 12, 2007

Smelly Facts: A Glance at Anosmia

Anosmia, the general lack of olfaction, can be congenital – that is, a person can be born anosmic. Alternatively, anosmia can occur later in life, either due to brain damage or because of vitamin A deficiency. In contrast, Specific Anosmia is the inability to detect the smell of a single chemical. A small percentage (2%-3%) of the general population for example, is unable to detect the smell of isobutyric acid – the component that makes sweat smelly. (Next time you find yourself suffering next to someone who has forgone the use of deodorant in the bus, you can perhaps distract yourself by wondering whether the reason behind their thoughtless behavior is the fact that they are anosmic to sweat and thus unable to detect their own funk!) Among perfume enthusiasts, the most commonly cited specific anosmia is of course musk anosmia, but in reality, specific anosmias span a much wider range of odors. To give a few examples aside from the aforementioned sweat and musk, other specific anosmias include fish, urine, sperm, camphor, mint and malt.

References: Amoore, 1977, Pelosi & Viti, 1978 and Kalat, 2007.


6 comments:

tmp00 said...

I think that there are several perfumes out there that have the musk that people can't smell: L'Antimatiere comes to mind. Some people swears it smells of nothing, but I get a wonderful musty musk, like a warm wool blanket.

I think I have the opposite problem; I have too sharp a sense of smell. I think that's why I like perfume so much. I'm not covering up my natural scent. I'm blotting out theirs

dinazad said...

Well, since you can dump me nose-downward in a ginormous clump of violets and I don't smell a thing, I suspect I'm anosmic to violets. And iris, since most iris perfumes people rave about strike me as abysmally boring, unless there's a lot going on aside from iris. Sighhhhhh. I wish I were White Linen-anosmic......

Divina said...

Tom, I have not yet smelled L'Antimatière, nor the other two LesNez frags actually. I am really curious! As for avoiding others' natural scent.....I've been lucky lately, not many problems. When it comes to others' perfume on the other hand...!!

Divina said...

Oh, no Dinazad! White Linen? Really? I love it, have loved it for years even though I don't wear it any longer. I do not care for the new one though...

dinazad said...

I don't care for the new one either, althought Tom Ford did a good job on Youth Dew Amber Nude, in my opinion.

As for White Linen - ghastly. I'm glad it works for you (it has to work for someone, after all). Let's just agree that if we should ever meet in person, you won't wear it (or Dior Poison, which is as bad). You, of course may tell me what not to wear as well! ;-)

Oregongirl82 said...

I'm not sure about any of the fragrances ya'll mentioned (or honestly even how I stumbled across this particular post LOL), but that photo is hilariously apropos!