“Isn’t the smell of coffee the best alarm clock?” — S.A. Tawks, The Spirit of Pessimism
I’ll admit I can’t get anything done without my daily dose of delicious caffeine in the form of a Folgers pour over in my favorite mug first thing in the morning. It is in fact, much like the advertisement claims to be, the best part of waking up for me this entire year. Don’t even talk to me before I’ve had my coffee is a popular idiom amongst coffee addicts and my barista knows this about me—dulcet tones only please until I get my double shot of espresso, thank you.
I’m not alone in this feeling. Apparently coffee is one of the most widely used psychoactive substances around. A recent brief outlines a fascinating fact. The easier an avid coffee drinker can detect the smell of a rich cup of java dictates their level of dependency. Let’s take a look at the study next.
The caffeinated case study
Researchers gleaned this knowledge from two separate case studies essentially attempting to deduce the connection between olfactory sensitivity and how bad their addiction to coffee really is. Scientists at the United Kingdom’s University of Portsmouth reviewed the following participants in a sensory experiment.
The first experiment test ran this theory on 62 men and women divided into two categories—folks who consumed 70-250 milligrams of coffee a day (those considered to be moderate consumers) and those who drank 300 milligrams or more per day (high amounts equivalent to more than 4 cups daily.)
Furthermore, participants were blindfolded and given “odor blankets” and asked to differentiate the smell of coffee from blankets soaked in higher concentrations of coffee and some blankets soaked in essential lavender oil.
Research proves that those with a higher dependency and higher daily intake of caffeine were able to pick up trace amounts of coffee aromas faster and with far more ease than their caffeine-free counterparts.
This fact was demonstrated further in a second study where participants were divided into avid coffee drinkers and those who abstained from caffeine completely. Out of the 32 participants, those who drank coffee regularly picked up the coffee scent much easier than the control group.
There was another odor blanket soaked in a non-addictive food smell and neither party detected those smells any easier. What does this mean for brown bean addicts?
According to Dr. Lorenzo Stafford, a prominent researcher in the field of psychology, and co-author of this study, his findings spell good news for all kinds of people struggling with addiction.
“Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive drug and these findings suggest that changes in the ability to detect smells could be a useful index of drug dependency.”
It’s quite possible the key to kicking your smoking habit could be introducing essential oils to your olfactory senses when you walk past a cigarette smoker on the street to curb those cravings.
Olfactory therapy has the potential to curb addiction
With any sort of addiction the second you get a whiff of whatever you’re craving the more you want it. Whenever I’m attempting to avoid empty carbohydrates on a Keto cleanse the minute I walk past a bakery it’s over for me.
Dr. Stanford backs up this phenomenon in his study adding, “Those higher caffeine users were able to detect the odor of a heavily diluted coffee chemical at much lower concentrations, and this ability increased with their level of craving. So, the more they desired caffeine, the better their sense of smell for coffee.”
This fact also holds up for those with alcohol or drug dependency. Yes, caffeine is a drug, though legal it’s best to consume in moderation to avoid health problems down the line. The study, published in Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, points out an exciting new therapy to introduce with folks struggling with addiction. Dr Stafford, PhD., adds the following useful information for potential treatment.
“The findings suggest sensitivity to smell and its links to craving could be used to help break some drug use behaviors, including addiction to tobacco or reliance on cannabis. Previous research showed those who were trained to associate an odor with something unpleasant later showed greater discrimination to that odor, which provides evidence of a possible model for conditioned odor aversion.”
I find it interesting that our senses inform so many of our actions in our daily lives. If I find myself smelling coffee brewed a mile away from my coffee shop I may be inclined to cut back. This study is an exciting new advancement for people in recovery from alcohol abuse or addiction to nicotine as a stress reliever while struggling with this pandemic.
Essential oils and candles may be the key to kicking your nasty habit and could give you the tools and coping mechanisms to live a much happier, healthier lifestyle for years to come.