Smell is a chemical thing. The smell sense has some very special properties compared to the other senses. It's a chemosensory powerhouse. How does it influence our primal nature?
you know you like it.
Musk. Pheromones. Sex. Molecules. Primal drives.
Not too dirty, not too sciency, but just enough to get you interested in your animal nature.
Let's take a deeper look at how to TAKE KoNTRoL of, or at least harness, our animal nature.
Topics in this post include:
- we like to smell it, even if we don't want to admit it
- Musk molecules made simple-ish
- Natural perfume: animal and vegan musks
the compulsion to smell funk
we like to sniff those armpits and other funky places!
This attractive pose is like an invitation to see more, hear more, and even smell more, right?
in through the nose...
Have you ever been around someone and are instantly turned off? Or been near a perfect stranger with whom you felt uncontrollable urges to get closer to (and closer... and closer)?
Is mate selection the only way our instincts work? Is there more to those funky smells? Well, sure there is!
Did you know that the aroma molecule in flowers like rose, jasmine, neroli, and tuberose is called indole, and it's also in poop? Mmmhmmm. In the right amount, the scent is irresistible (why you think that girl showin' her booty?) Think about that the next time you give or receive a bouquet of roses!
Indole is sexy and seductive. Imagine that time you spent with that special someone in Key West or some other tropical location on a sultry night, on the beach, all sweaty and sticky and maybe a little tipsy, with the intoxicating scent of jasmine perfuming the air all around you. Without the scent of the flower, the night air is just hot and salty smelling. But with the jasmine, all kinds of pleasure associations are activated in the brain. The experience is erotic; the odors are hypnotizing and our experience is out-of-the-ordinary. That elevated experience is what we are trying to conjure up with perfumes and fragrances.
odor molecules - smelly little things
Back to sniffing. We truly are animals when it comes to scent and our primal instincts. This article in Scientific American explains some of what we know about the urge to sniff, and why we have animal attraction to some people and not others.
Is there something good in the air? Something tasty? Something sexy? Our olfactory neurons are just itching to get a whiff of what and who is around us, and all it takes are a few molecules to get the chemical message happening on those neurons. We bring our hands to our faces after a handshake or touch of another person's skin, and we can detect minute amounts of odor molecules on our hands.
But beyond this function of assessing our own bodies and people around us, the primal urge to sniff is totally necessary for our survival. We have to know what's going on around us and our noses are like smoke detectors and CO2 detectors, but also detectors for the things we need and want like water and food.
The olfactory neurons, like all good nerves, translate the molecular chemical information into electrical nerve information and send that information to the brain. I talk more about smell and odor perception in my second post, "What In The World Is A Molecular System" if you like that kind of detail.
on through the amygdala...
Turns out, the amygdalae are the paths, gates, and gatekeepers to the brain's memory, emotion, and decision-making areas - and our sex drive, too! These little almond-shaped brain nuggets "integrate" emotions, emotional behavior, and motivation. It turns out that they play a bigger role in sex drive than we ever realized, see this article in Psychology Today.
Wait! What? That makes them pretty. damn. important! My amygdalas are my good friends, what about yours?
Sexiness is not nearly so much about looks as it is about sensations and smells.
The five senses are really fascinating, there's so much to take in. And we DO take it all in, even at a subliminal level. And because smell is soooooooo sensitive, we don't need heavy scents and fragrances at all.
Pro Tip: Be smart. Be careful. Choose carefully what you will look at, listen to, and interact with in your mental and physical environment. #GIGO.
musk molecules - fat baskets
How musk molecules work
Musk is a key ingredient in both natural and commercial perfumes and perfumed products because it holds ephemeral essences, which may last only a few minutes, much longer than they would last by themselves. It's a perfume fixative, allowing the wearer to enjoy rare and precious essences for hours rather than moments. Because of this property, the use of musk or other fixatives is a key principle in all perfume making. It's especially important in natural perfumery because of the sublime nature of organic essences. They are as fragile and brief as the plants from which they are derived.
You can imagine these large molecules are like big baskets with space for dainty little flowers, herbs, fruit, and other delightful molecules. They hold light and airy molecules, so they won't diffuse away too quickly.
This scientific article reports how musk molecules activate human musk odor receptors and has line diagrams of many musk molecules that illustrate the basket shapes.
Synthetic fragrances and synthetic musk ingredients are used extensively in every day products. Macrocyclic musk molecules can only be perceived by 50% of humans, yet synthetic musk is used in most perfumed products and in many commercial perfumes. It's definitely in your typical laundry detergent and fabric softener, because it prevents that "fresh, clean scent" from washing and drying away.
opinion: don't cover it up, enhance it.
You are an aromatic animal, ANIMaL ARoMATIK! Androsterone and estrogen are the naturally occurring steroid hormones in men and women, and interestingly they have similar shapes as musk molecules. We don't really know what human pheromones are, but who cares? Something is going on, and it's all good.
If you embrace this already, I commend you and have no doubt that you enjoy richly satisfying experiences. If you aren't sure what I'm talking about, then, huney, we should chat sometime!
The more subtle and more natural a fragrance is, the more POTENT it is at a subliminal level. If you know how to wield this knowledge, that's a superpower!
- Bonus Point: Natural perfumes meld with and blend with your own natural scent from your skin and your musk, to create something truly magical and unique.
We don’t have any time to waste when it comes to developing our superpowers! We are not doing anything invasive, or sneaky, or dangerous by using natural materials and making our own informed decisions. We aren't taking advantage of ourselves, the way we are taken advantage of by commercialism -- we're taking advantage of our innate abilities in the same way we'd train to sing, or paint, or dance.
But here I want to emphasize the point to only use natural materials. How do you improve your #ScentLife? By reconnecting with nature- the natural world and also your natural self!
Take control of your scent life by first choosing to avoid synthetic fragrances and second choosing to embrace the natural world with all its funky odors.
Get rid of the brand name sprays, the box store candles, the overpowering hair care and body care products. They're bad for you anyway, what with all the garbage petroleum ingredients in them, and the people who are very sensitive to them really suffer with skin sensitivities, asthma, and other allergies.
It's a choice you make.
Switch to unscented and naturally scented products as much as practicable. Go au naturale. Good job! Good choice!
Musk in natural perfume can also be vegan, as ambrette seed and the natural isolate ambrettolide.
On its own, ambrette seed doesn't do anything for me. I genuinely dislike it on the scent strip. However, something happens to it on skin, blending with my own odors. Some perfumers even describe it as smelling like skin. This actually makes sense, now that I've worked with it a little. Because ambrette doesn't contain any animal secretions, its musk molecule can capture and hold the wearer's own scent, as their own oils and natural fragrance blends with the ambrette seed. Perhaps it acts as a skin scent magnifier or enhancer.
Being a medical acupuncturist, I have training and experience in detecting and characterizing the five main types of human skin odors. These are Water - putrid (rotten eggs), Wood - rancid (soured), Fire - scorched, Earth - sweet, Metal - rotten (musty). Ambrette seed can be said to possess, of the five choices, musty sweetness. However, on my skin I perceive it as tin or metallic with sweet undertones, not musty. And I find this intriguing, that I perceive it to transform its elemental quality on my skin.
Whether your natural perfume is made with ambergris (harvested from the sea and containing ambreine and indole), ambrette musk, or other animal musks, these ingredients are what gives your perfume shimmer, sexiness, and serious staying power on your skin.
coming up: how to wear natural perfume like a boss, more about my perfume, and how fragrance can empower us.
In the first two posts I explained why I named my brand Take Kontrol and what I mean by Fragrance Flow Molecular System. This post gives you a perspective for appreciating your own natural fragrance.
Last minute advice:
Wear a face covering Always & Everywhere, take some vitamins (zinc and zinc ionophores to be precise), love the ones you’re with, stay super duper hydrated, and just breathe and smell stuff. Because we are lucky ducks if we can still breathe and smell, don’t you think? Stop and smell the roses, literally and figuratively. Stay busy with good endeavors, try to fill your heart with good vibes and don’t put garbage into your brain.
We Got This!