“Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: [so doth] a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom [and] honour” (Ecclesiastes:10:1).
We don’t often think about our sense of smell. While our noses are on the job all the time, we note an odor only when it is unusual. Most of the time, the scents around us contribute, unnoticed, to our overall impression of our surroundings.
It’s hard to remain tense at the beach. Simply the mention of the water and waves, the sand and sun brings back to memory the last trip to the beach and starts relaxing a person. However therapeutic these elements of the beach are, scientists have found that the one beach fixture that is probably most responsible for relaxing us is the smell.
The smelly chemical that utility companies put in natural gas so that we can smell leaks is methyl mercaptan. This chemical is also produced by rotting meat. The human nose is extremely sensitive to this smell. We can detect as little as one 400-billionth of a gram of it in a quart of air.
Doctors have long known that their noses are helpful in diagnosing disease. A person is brought into the emergency room in a coma. It’s very likely that the doctor will smell the patient’s breath as he tries to discover the problem. A sweet smell could indicate diabetes. The smell of ammonia could indicate a kidney malfunction. Arsenic poisoning smells like garlic. Diphtheria can be identified by a sickeningly sweet odor, and people with the plague smell like apples. A patient who smells like freshly baked bread may have typhoid.
While we seldom think about our sense of smell, it’s a wonderful gift from our Creator for which we owe Him thanks.