How your sense of smell supports your digestion and your health July 14, 2017 09:38

Ways to optimize digestive function, like your sense of smell, called the olfactory system.

rest and digest

Since your sense of smell is the most primal sense, and can significantly impact your thoughts, emotions, moods, memories, and behaviors, it makes sense that smelling food would trigger the brain to activate the vagus nerve to ignite all parasympathetic responses, including the digestive cascade. Breathing, sitting in an upright position at the table, and eating slowly and consciously are all ways to trigger the parasympathetic state during meals, but when emotional issues get in the way, it can be hard to fully relax.


Essential oils can be helpful as well, as they work to stimulate the parasympathetic “rest-and-digest” state by reaching the inner-brain through nasal pathways to stimulate the nerve endings in the skin, which connect to the parasympathetic nervous system. In fact, in one study, researchers found that components of lavender oil, when applied topically, were at measurable amounts in the blood within 20 minutes, and stayed in the blood system for up to 90 minutes.

To receive this benefit for digestion, you can apply essential oils behind the earlobe, on the mastoid bone. This is the most accessible area to the surface of the skin.


Aromatherapy can be incredibly beneficial to your overall health. And while it’s not considered a replacement for healthy lifestyle choices, such as good nutrition and exercise, it is great for enhancement, and for ensuring you have a backdoor to access when your digestive system isn’t working properly due to the high levels of stress and anxiety that so commonly plague people today.