Health Nugget – The Pathway of Smell

Do you appreciate your little nose?

“The nose is the smelling room of the body. It is more than a room—it is in reality a wonderful little house. It is three stories high and is made up of many curious rooms and winding stairs. Two doors, the nostrils, admit the air laden with odors to the waiting room or vestibule. Most of the air passes back through the hall on the first floor, some of it goes up stairs to the second floor and visits the various chambers, but the odors one and all make haste to reach the rooms on the third floor. In the walls of these upper rooms are thousands of delicate hair-like projections ready to be touched.

“These projections are like electric buttons in a house or a hotel. … The very gentlest touch of an odor on one of these hairs or “smell bodies” in the smell chamber of the nose, rings a bell in your office in the brain and tells you that a rose is waiting to be enjoyed or that you are in disagreeable or dangerous air … these little smell bodies, which are called olfactory cells, send different messages to the brain for different odors. …

“Every fragrant odor is healthful or full of health. It makes us breathe more deeply and thus brings more life into the blood, more vigor to the brain.

“Bad odors have just the opposite effect. They warn us of danger in the air and keep us from breathing gases and fumes that would poison us. How often in passing a factory or some other place where there is a bad smell you hold your nose shut to keep out the odor. At the same time you are keeping out bad air.

“You cannot smell any one odor very long at a time. If you do not heed the warning of a bad smell soon the warning will no longer be given. If you bury your nose in a fragrant bouquet or hold it close to the top of a bottle of perfume almost at once you cease to smell anything at all. If you keep smelling and smelling of some sweet flower your very eagerness destroys your pleasure. The odor cannot be constantly smelled. In three minutes or in a shorter time it will be gone. This is because the power of the smell cells is limited. You have been trying to make them work too hard. They are so built that they cannot overdo. If you wait a few moments and let them rest they will go to work again and you can again smell the flower, the perfume, the gas.

“In this the smell cells are like the taste buds. After one has been eating for half an hour the food does not taste as it did at first. The taste buds as well as the smell cells become tired and need a rest. The first mouthful has the keenest taste. The first whiff of an odor has the keenest smell.

“Just as the taste buds in the mouth stand, like sentinels, at the beginning of the food passage to see that nothing dangerous enters, so the smell cells stand, like sentinels, at the beginning of the breathing passage, guarding all the air we breathe.

“The air often carries other enemies besides bad odors. Just inside the doors of the nose, in the nostrils, are several little stiff hairs, that are placed there to keep out these enemies. They keep out flies and other insects as well as the dust. If dust or dirt or insect passes these guards it is caught by the moist walls of the nose.

“In many places, especially in some large cities the air is so full of dust that it forces its way past these sentinels through the nose into the throat and lungs where it often causes disease.

“If the air is very cold or very hot the front doors of the nose are partly closed by certain little muscles whose duty it is to keep watch and not let in any more cold air or hot air than it is safe to breathe. When these little muscles are holding the door shut it makes our noses look thin and ‘pinched.’ Notice this on a cold frosty morning. It is not Jack Frost that is pinching your nose but the little muscles in the tip of your nose that are shutting the doors to keep out Jack Frost. …

“Smell and Taste are good friends and work together. One helps the other. But smell helps taste more than taste helps smell.

“Sometimes you get up in the morning to find that you have a cold in the head. You try to breathe through your nose but cannot. You cannot smell. You sit down to breakfast but you cannot eat. The food does not taste good. You push back your plate and give up trying to eat. This is just what smell and taste were working for. Your cold will disappear sooner if you do not eat much, so they make eating uncomfortable and disagreeable. Every part of the body is all the time helping every other part to keep the living temple growing healthy and strong and beautiful.” Excerpts from The Story of a Living Temple, Frederick M. Rossiter, published by Forgotten Books 2012—originally published in 1902, 43–49.

Praise the Lord for the gift of a nose!