More Smelly Stories
selected by Jeanne Rose

  • Wanda Bodine opened up a Smell Store last week. It's this little shop in the mall where she sells stuff that emits aromas. Smelly oils, smelly herbs, smelly candles, smelly dried-flower arrangements, smelly clumps of pine bark you're supposed to stick on your desk so that you'll feel better about yourself.
         I didn't believe it when she first told me about it. I had to go down to the mall to check it out for myself. But here it was. "essences a la Bodine." And right smack dab in the middle of the picture perfect window was one of those fluffy baskets of every man's greatest nightmare.
         I'm talking, of course, of po-purr-ee. I can't spell it and I can't say it, but I know it's French and it has way too many vowels in it. And basically what it looks like is a big ole handful of weeds and sticks in a brown basket.
         Women love to scatter this stuff all over the house, like a Marine Corps obstacle course, until everytime you take a bite out of a baloney sandwich, it tastes like a perfumed cat.
         But the place where Wanda is making the really big bucks is soap and all the other stuff women think they have to put on their faces after they use soap. The soaps have names like Lavender Breeze and Herbal Oleander Oxen Juice and Black Sea Wisteria Wonder, and they're these big hunky bars that look like they were cut with a chain saw, and they cost, like, nine bucks apiece.

-Joe Bob Briggs, Drive In Movie Critic
San Francisco Chronicle, December 28, 1996

  • SCENTS OF KINDNESS - Robert Baron and other aroma researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institution in Troy, NY found that the fragrances of coffee and baking cookies made shoppers in an upstate New York Mall more than twice as likely to help a stranger. They more readily offered change for a dollar or helped a teenager pick up pens they dropped compared to shoppers in unscented surroundings who were matched for time of day, gender, and several other considerations. The explanation was simple: good smells make people feel better and thus more likely to help others.

-Associated Press, 10/14/96

  • SEDATIVE BATHING - Controlled experiments done by the German company, Sebastian-Kneipp Forschung in Bad Worishofen, showed the value of aromatherapy for both relaxation and circulation. (Kneipp was famous for his water cures.) Citronella (Cymbopogon nardus) added to warm baths improved sleep and was sedative for both healthy people and those with nervous of sleep disorders. Its sedative effects were stronger than repeated oral doses of a hops extract (Humulus lupulus). Essential oil of Lavender (Lavandula sp.) created a sense of peace, although did not act as a sedative. Juniper (Juniperus sp.) and Wintergreen (Gautheria procumbens) essential oils increase circulation in rheumatoid patients and also decreased pain. The researchers concluded that these studies demonstrate "efficacy of phytobalneologics. . ."
    [Ed. Note., Wintergreen essential oil is so scarce, this study may have actually used Birch oil (Betula sp.), which is commonly labeled Wintergreen. The two have very similar chemistry, smell, and use. And, how about "phytobalneologics." There's a word to impress colleagues!]

-HealthInform 2(10), Nov. 18, 1996 From: Zeischrft fur Phytotherapie, 1996
                            The American Herb Association Vol. 12:4

  • My assistant, Kimberly told me a hot story about one of her first lessons in the power of essential oils. After working a trade show in Las Vegas and being on her feet all day, she remembered that one of the properties of Peppermint oil was that it has a cooling effect. While preparing to go walking around Las Vegas with her co-workers, she applied 10 drops of Peppermint oil with 3 drops of carrier oil to each foot thinking that it would cool her tired, swollen feet. The cooling sensation of the Peppermint felt absolutely wonderful - and as she started walking around her feet felt increasingly warmer and warmer, until at last she felt like she had hot coals in her shoes! She immediately ripped off her shoes and socks and ran back to the hotel barefoot and sweating profusely! What Kimberly did not know was that in addition to having a cooling effect - Peppermint also has a warming effect with increased circulation. Respect the oils!

  • And now for something entirely different, but not entirely unrelated! SMELLY FEET AND A TROPICAL KILLER - "We are beginning to understand how mosquitoes locate their meals", says Clive Cookson in the Financial Times. Currently grappling with the biochemistry of the numerous pyrethroids contained in PYRETHRUM (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefoliium), for the specific purpose of relieving your mosquito problems during the coming summer, I was riveted.
         Mosquito-borne malaria kills about two million people a year, mainly in Africa, according to the World Health Organization. As Mr. Cookson writes, ". . .It is astonishing how little is known about what attracts mosquitoes to people and what repels them, given the level of distress caused by the insects." DEET (diethyltoluamide) is the only synthetic chemical approved for sale as a mosquito repellent, but it is a sticky oil and is liable to dissolve plastic and synthetic fabrics. Although it has been around for forty years, there are still doubts about the long-term safety profile of Deet. It is absorbed through the skin and can have neurological side-effects, especially when applied heavily to children. We know that essential oils can repel mosquitoes, perhaps because insects that feed on animal blood have evolved a mechanism to avoid plants (an interesting theory). Although essential oils do not work as well as Deet, they are far more user-friendly.
         Whilst living in the Tropics, often in designated RED (maximum malaria danger) areas, I did notice that certain individuals were more attractive to mosquitoes than others. According to Gabriella Gibson of Imperial College's biological research station at Silwood Park, Berkshire, people give off an "odor plume" which mosquitoes can detect at a distance of at least 20 metres downwind. At long distance, it seems that CO2 is the main attractant. Closer up, they are more interested in the victims body heat and "sweat". It seems that they are particularly attracted by smelly feet and so it is simply a matter of developing a "smelly feet" fragrance and we shall be able to lure them into a trap far from us. Amazing what these scientists are working on!

--Essentially Oils Ltd., Newsletter December 1996

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