After the nose and lungs, experts have found odor receptors (similar to one in the nose), present in skin cells and thus enabling our skin to sense different odors and surprisingly these help in the speedy healing of wounds.
Researchers have found nearly 350 distinct varieties of olfactory receptors in the human nose. These receptors detect different odors and begin a signaling process which sends messages to the brain. Apart from nose, 150 olfactory receptors are also located in other internal tissues as heart, gut and liver. Using these receptors, cells of internal tissues react to different chemical odor compounds.
Dr Hanns Haat from Ruhr University Bochum, Germany conducted the strange research. Dr Hanns and his colleagues studied main skin cells known as keratinocytes and observed their response to different smells.
Receptor facilitating healing process
The researchers discovered that the smell of Sandalore, which is a synthetic sandalwood oil widely used in skin care products and aromatherapy, could activate a receptor, OR2AT4 found in skin cells. Unlike nose receptors, which convey messages to the brain, the receptor stimulates keratinocyte cells to migrate and quickly proliferate. In short, the skin produces new and healthier cells to facilitate healing of wound.
The Experiment: Healing boost
Researchers noted that Sandalore when mixed with keratinocytes in a test tube and in culture for five days, increases cell division rate by 32 percent and cell migration by half. They conducted the trail with natural sandalwood oil and 10 synthetic oil, out of which only three showed desired effect, suggesting that these receptors are finely tuned and can differentiate between various synthetic sandalwood oils. However, the concentration of Sandalore needed to stimulate wound healing is 1000 times higher than the amount required by the receptors in nose to identify a particular fragrance.
Not for everyone
Just as sensitivity to smell vary from person to person depending upon genetic variability, the healing effect would also differ from person to person. But it is yet for the experts to find out that whether a certain version of synthetic sandalwood oil beneficial to one person might not yield the desired result or might have no effect or even toxic for another person.
Researchers in the coming years, plan to develop new therapies to heal wounds and repair the damage caused by aging with topical products. They would extend the research to study receptors located on internal organs and then develop drugs accordingly.
Well, we can hope doctors in the future prescribing drugs with fragrance instead of hard to swallow, terrible tasting pills.