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The Power of Scent

As unique to us as a finger print, every person has a natural scent that is ours alone; a powerful indicator of health, hygiene, but also an important factor in sexual attraction – unconsciously indicating the genetic differences between us.

words rosemary ferguson

Healthy doesn’t carry any specific odour. Unhealthy, however, has several possible olfactory indicators.

Smell. We all have a natural smell, a unique and distinct odour that is personal to us, and us alone. Even if you think you don’t, you do. It is the reason why dogs can track us, and why the same perfume will often smell different on different people.

There have been many studies done on the role of scent  in sexual attraction, and it has been proven to be a very important factor in the world of love. It will also affect your relationship with others. More crucially, it can speak volumes about the state of your health, which can be very helpful when trying to diagnose a medical problem.

We are all covered in bacteria. Some parts of the body have more than others –  the armpits and between the legs are areas where you will find it in particularly large concentrations. So if you are a soap dodger, these areas are where the bacteria can really fester, and this will often cause an unpleasant smell – one that is commonly called BO. (I should explain that the bacteria that live in and on our bodies are crucial for our health and immune system – it only becomes a problem when the colony gets out of control.)

Poor hygiene is not the only reason why someone might carry  a pungent smell – it can also be a sign of a toxic body.

We are all covered in bacteria. Some parts of the body have more than others – the armpits and between the legs are areas where you will find it in particularly large concentrations.

Our skin is one of the most important organs of detoxification; when the liver, bowels and kidneys are overstretched the body uses other avenues to remove the toxins, and it can come out via sweat, which, added to the bacteria, causes a right stink! Stress or being nervous will also change your body odour, as will wearing certain materials.

So what can you do about it? Firstly, make sure you are drinking enough water as this will help flush your system through. Get your fibre in; make sure you are eating loads of fruit and veg. Fibre helps your transit time and keeps the digestive system moving at a healthy pace, meaning your bowel stays in good shape and your digestion is working efficiently.   

Vegetables such as artichoke, the cabbage family, rocket, chicory and beetroot all help the liver detoxify. Alternatively, you could also take milk thistle daily. Try body brushing every day – this removes dead skin and helps keep bacteria under control while stimulating circulation, which also helps the skin do its job.

Next on the list of body smells people find offensive is bad breath, or halitosis. Our culture is intolerant of halitosis and it can be a cause of bullying towards those who suffer from it. Oddly, people with bad breath tend to accept the condition and, rather than getting to the bottom of the cause, try to cover it up with mints or breath freshener.

Yes, halitosis is often caused by poor dental hygiene, but if the hygienist, flossing and brushing, and regular dental trips don’t fix it then you need to look further afield. Go a little bit further down the alimentary canal and look at the digestion.

Persistent bad breath can be caused by a bacterial imbalance in the gut, poor digestion or a sluggish bowel.

Persistent bad breath can be caused by a bacterial imbalance in the gut, poor digestion or a sluggish bowel.

Do you chew your food properly? Is it being broken down or is it sitting in the gut and bowel? Are you a big meat eater? If your digestion is weak, or your liver is sluggish, you may not be breaking food down properly. Consequently, it could be lying undigested and putrefying in your gut – delightful I know, but a very real cause of halitosis. Diabetes, liver and kidney problems can also be factors, so if you have a long-term issue with your breath you should go and see a doctor.

My advice for sweet-smelling breath starts with the most important supplement for the bacteria in the gut – a probiotic to help boost the good bacteria. Get one with acidophilus, bifidus and fructooligosaccharides and take one or two caps morning and night for a month. Follow the same food advice that I gave above for body odour – lots of fibre to get the bowel moving, lots of greens for the chlorophyll (or you could try supplements).

Do go to the dentist just to make sure all is well in the mouth and if you get the all clear then think outside the box!


Photography Claire Brand. Beauty Polly Mercer.
Model Esme Ham at the Hive Management.
Jemima Magner, Cast by Chloe Rosolek Casting
Becky Strauch, Cast by Chloe Rosolek Casting
Photographic assistant Samuel Hearn
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