The link between pain, depression, and scent

Posted by Annabel Mendez on

The link between pain, depression, and scent

If you’ve had chronic pain for a long time like Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, or Neuropathy, you know all too well the physical and emotional components. Depression is often linked with pain and for many it is a terrible cycle where having pain leads to lack of sleep that triggers depression that leads to more stress/tension in the body that worsens the pain. But did you know that the scent of your current pain reliever can also contribute to depression? 

How do scents affect mood?

There is significant research that links scents to moods. However, in order for scents to have an effect on your mood, there must be an association between the scent and an experience. This is called associative learning. For example, if as a child you had a great time at a theme park while eating cotton candy, you may associate the scent of cotton candy with fun and happiness. Similarly, if you were in an accident and the last thing you remember smelling was a rose, this scent may bring back terrible memories.

Why is the smell of a pain reliever important?

The smell of menthol or camphor are typically associated with medicine, aging, and can be a constant reminder of being ill or in pain. These smells further reinforce the connection between the person and their ailments and keep them in the cycle of pain. This scent is probably the last thing you experience at night and the first smell when you wake up in the morning.

Most people would say that they don’t care what a pain reliever smells like as long as it’s working. However, this may not be the case for many women with chronic pain. The smell that comes from traditional topicals is usually a strong strong scent is embarrassing and can lead to isolation and not being around others.

There have been numerous studies that link isolation and loneliness to depression. As humans, we are genetically wired to be around others.

Why do most pain relief topicals rely on menthol or camphor?

Pain receptors in the body are the ones that send chemical messages to the brain letting it know that there is pain. Cooling or heating irritants like menthol or camphor trick these pain receptors into receiving a more pleasant message of cool or heat. These sensations are better than pain, but the smell associated with them is very hard to mask. Because these ingredients are relatively cheap, pain relief companies use them in high percentages, sometimes up to 16%. 

There are 2 big downsides to these high percentages. The first is that they can irritate more sensitive skin like those of women. Most of these products are formulated by men for men. The second is that terrible smell that no matter what fragrances or oils they mix it with, won’t go away. 

How can this pain cycle be interrupted with scents? 

In addition to having a superior formula that combines nutrients like glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, and L-arginine to help combat pain and inflammation, the Aromalief cream has something very special. It is formulated with a unique odorless crystal used in high-end beauty products. These crystals provide a cooling sensation without smelling like menthol or camphor and allows us to blend aromatherapy essential oils with powerful pain relieving ingredients. The result is a cream that smells like your favorite body lotion, but with even more benefits than a traditional pain reliever. 

The aromatherapy essential oils can boost your mood and best of all, chronic pain sufferers can be around other people and not feel isolated or triggered by the scent. Having a great smelling pain reliever that works does more than smell nice. It can help to break that pattern of pain, depression, and isolation.

The information shared in this blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. Please consult your doctor.

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