How Strong is Your Sense of Smell? Why It Matters.


We’ve all learned to expect a certain amount of vision and hearing loss as we get older. Reading glasses and hearing aids are common accessories among our aging relatives.

What’s interesting is that people rarely consider a diminishing sense of smell to be a worrisome harbinger of age. And yet, it’s becoming increasingly evident that a poor sense of smell is like the proverbial canary in the coal mine: it’s a solid sign of poor health.

Evidence is strong that poor odor identification is a better early indication of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s than memory problems or signs of tremor. While about half the population of adults between the ages of 65 and 80 have some demonstrable loss of smell, it is often markedly worse in those with early Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. Researchers have found that an olfactory test can clinch a diagnosis for either of these conditions if other signs of the disease are there.

Many neurologists thought olfactory tests seemed flaky in the past, but due to consistent results from researchers in the US and in Europe, it’s now being taken seriously. And as the cost of an olfactory test is much less than an MRI or PET scan, and it’s less invasive than a spinal tap, it can reduce health care costs as well.

According to Chinese medicine, your sense of smell is linked to the health of your lungs. This means that if your lungs are strong, you should have a sharp sense of smell as well. Wouldn’t it be interesting if it was one day found that herbs known to strengthen the lungs helped to prevent the onset of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s? In any case, it can’t hurt to try to keep your lungs strong as you age.

For those who suffer from health problems related to weakened lungs, such as allergies, and asthma, we recommend the use of our Chrysanthemum tincture. This tincture contains herbs known to strengthen the lungs over time, such as chrysanthemum flower, and astragalus root. It can also be used regularly to help prevent your lungs from weakening as you age.

About the author: Rebecca Wong has an honours degree in English Literature from the University of Waterloo, and has been working in the herbal business since 2000. She has received her training in acupuncture and herbalism from respected authorities Paul Des Rosiers and Vu Le at the Ontario College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Toronto, and Michael Tierra at the East West Herb School in California.

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