Influences of Scent on Subjective Sensation Induced by Somatosensory Stimulation to Forearm

Monday, 30 July 2012

Yuka Saeki, PhD
Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, Tsukuba University, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan
Ayako Tsunoda, RN
Graduate School of Complehensive Human sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to get some evidence for the complementary and alternative therapy.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to investigate the way how to releive pain.

This study was designed to investigate whether pleasant or unpleasant scent influences subjective sensation caused by somatosensory stimulation.

Healthy subjects with normal sense of smell (n=22, F; n=10, M; n=12, 23 + 3 yrs.) inhaled diluted bergamot oil as a pleasant scent, diluted ammonia water as an unpleasant odor and distilled water as a control.  As subjective sensation Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) was measured when microelectrical stimulation of sine wave of 5 Hz or 250 Hz was applied to the epidermis of forearm.  Two stimulus intensity including current perception threshold (CPT) as very weak stimulation and pain perception threshold (PPT) as stronger stimulation were applied to the subjects.  Electrical stimulation at 5 Hz and 250 Hz has been known to activate unmyelinated sensory nerve fiber (C fiber) and small myelinated sensory nerve fiber (A-delta fiber), respectively.  Approval for the present study was obtained from University of Tsukuba Ethical Committee.  

Following inhalation of bergamot, subjective sensation for the stimulation of CPT at 250 Hz decreased significantly compared with it in control and also tended to decrease sensation for PPT at 5 Hz (p=0.06).  There were no significant changes in ammonia inhalation.

It is suggested that inhaling good scent might cause to decrease subjective sensation to somatosensory stimulation.  However, there is a possibility that subjective sensation during inhalation pleasant or unpleasant scent might change depending on stimulus intensity.