We learn as toddlers that we hear with our ears, feel with our skin, and smell with our nose. An intriguing new study shows that we have also have receptors for smell in our skin. The scent of sandalwood, specifically, was found to facilitate wound healing and skin regeneration.
Science Daily reports that researchers at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum have discovered that keratinocytes, the cells which form the outer layer of skin, contains olfactory receptors. The study was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. Scientists say that humans have approximately 350 different kinds of olfactory receptors in the nose. No surprise there. But these smell receptors have also been found to exist in other places, such as the intestines, the prostate, the kidneys, and sperm. Now, it turns out some of these receptors are in human skin as well.
Among these receptors is one called OR2AT4. What the RUB researchers discovered was that, when the scent of sandalwood activates those receptors, a calcium-dependent signal pathway is triggered, which leads to greater cell proliferation and quicker migration of skin cells, which is important for repairing damaged skin. According to New Scientist, "[c]ell proliferation increased by 32 per cent and cell migration by nearly half when keratinocytes in a test tube and in culture were mixed for five days with Sandalore." Sandalore is a commonly-used synthetic sandalwood oil.
Scientists are excited about the implications of sandalwood, as well as olfactory receptors in skin, for new medications and cosmetics.
However, the concept of sandalwood for healing is quite ancient. According to Healing: God's Forgotten Gift, sandalwood is what is often referred to in some of the earliest Hebrew writings as "aloes" (not to be confused with aloe vera). Traditional uses of sandalwood essential oil have included wound healing, restoration of chapped and wrinkled skin, cold sores, relaxation, diarrhea, vision, and slowing of gray hair.
According to the Essential Oils Desk Reference, sandalwood oil has been documented by research at Brigham Young University for its ability to inhibit some types of cancer cells. It is also used for viral infections, especially in the skin, and acne, wrinkles, and scars. Sandalwood has been used for deep sleep.
Sandalwood oil also "may help remove negative programming from the cells. It is high in sesquiterpenes that stimulate the pineal gland and the limbic region of the brain, the center of emotions. The pineal gland is responsible for releasing melatonin, a powerful immune stimulant and antitumoral agent."
Sandalwood oil is an essential component in Young Living's skincare line, along with frankincense, another remarkable substance with historical and therapeutic benefits, as reported previously by The Inquisitr.
The benefits of essential oils and aromatherapy have experienced a dramatic resurgence in popularity in recent years. This new research into the benefits of sandalwood holds great promise. The concept that the skin contains olfactory receptors could potentially revolutionize the fields of medicine, cosmetics, and essential oils. Who knew that skin could smell?