(NaturalNews) A new study finds that just the smell of coffee alone may provide important antioxidant benefits all the while soothing your frazzled nerves. Humans have been consuming coffee for a thousand years and for a lot of us, the aroma of freshly brewed coffee is as good, sometimes better, than the taste. Now we learn from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that the pleasure of smelling coffee might provide for humans a powerful antioxidant that protects nerve cells from stress related damage.
The study was partially funded by the Winter Institute Program of the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation and the Japan-Korea Industrial Technology Foundation.
Han-Seok Seo, study leader of the Seoul National University in South Korea and his colleagues conducted their tests on four groups of adult male Wistar rats stressed from sleep deprivation.
The aim of the study was to demonstrate influences of roasted coffee aroma on rat brain functions and evaluate the impact. After testing, the impact was conclusive; roasted coffee bean aroma changes the mRNA and protein levels of the rat brain. This showed for the first time that valuable proteins with healthy antioxidant properties, which are important in protecting cells from stress, were found in the brains of the coffee-sniffing rats.
We don't know if ancient cultures tested aroma impact on rodents, but we do know that bottles of medicinal aromatics discovered in tombs were widely used by the ancient Egyptians. Writings have been found from other ancient cultures indicating that the Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Hebrews used aromas for healing.
One of the fastest growing fields today in alternative medicine is aromatherapy. A holistic treatment using botanical oils that are inhaled or massaged into your skin, these oils work on the brain and nervous system by stimulating the olfactory nerves.
Of our five senses, the sense of smell is the most complex and unique in structure. A major pathway for information to be distributed to the brain is the limbic system where emotions and responses of the body are processed. It is the hippocampus, a part of the forebrain, which is responsible for short term memory.
The effect of scent on the human mind and its implications have not been fully researched yet, but brain scientists are now confirming what herbalists and aroma researchers have long believed; a good aroma evokes our deepest emotions. Alan Hirsch, M.D., neurological director of the Smell and Taste Research Foundation in Chicago agrees.
Smell, odor, scents are powerful tools for bringing back memories or eliciting emotional responses which ultimately affect our overall health. Experts are learning that when odor is paired with a learning task, that recall will be 50% improved. The implications of this for children with learning difficulties or brain trauma victims are promising.
Zoladz and Raudenbush (2005) have examined the effects of cinnamon and peppermint odor on participants and found improvement in their ability to pay attention, their recognition & working memory, visual-motor response speed, mood and energy.
Another similar study was conducted by Barker, Grayhem, Koon, Perkins, Whalen and Raudenbush (2003) to assess whether peppermint would actually increase the alertness of clerical workers in an office environment. The overall improvement in typing accuracy, speed, increased performance and ability to alphabetize improved significantly.
In 1996 another group, Kliauga, Hubert, and Cenci, studied the improvement of participants who proofread pages of text with misspelled words and found similar results of significant improvement.
New buildings in Japan are designed using an innovative HVAC system that incorporates calming lavender and rosemary scents to soothe waiting customers, whereas employees in banks are being kept alert with stimulating aromas like lemon and eucalyptus.
While researchers unravel the complexities of aromas and the link to our physiological and emotional behavior, we know there is a definite link up between the nose and the brain and it smells pretty good.
Deanna Dean is the Wellness Director for Your Health Coach, a company dedicated to health and wellness education. website: yourhealthcoachdee.com Dee is a Wellness & Weight Loss Coach, a Certified Natural Health Professional, is pursuing an ND degree-Naturopathic Doctor, is a certified Raw Chef, certified in Dietary Guidelines from the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, former Personal Trainer, Yoga and Fitness Studio Owner, TV and Radio Guest, Health Columnist. Deanna develops customized programs to enhance the health of her clients, educates, and coaches dieters for safe weight loss.