The Issue With Fragrance (7-Minute Read)

Most fragrance is not natural and is created in a laboratory which can effect your health
Connie Pretula Headshot

Connie Pretula

Connie Pretula is an inspiring health coach and Menopause Navigator to mature women, using a holistic approach to nutrition and life.

September 26, 2023

This is a topic I have been meaning to share my thoughts on for some time; fragrance.

Have you ever been in a close space with someone wearing a lot of fragrance and almost unable to breathe? I have! It is one reason I now take the stairs in my building the majority of the time.

To be fair, I used to wear perfume prior to becoming a certified nutritional practitioner. Then I learned the nasty truth about what the majority of fragrances are made of today, chemicals.

Even “natural fragrance” on a label may not be truly natural and actually created in a lab.

Many, years ago, perfumes were made from real natural sources. True natural scents can be very expensive, it takes more than 10,000 freshly picked rose blossoms to produce one 5 mL bottle of rose essential oil.

Scents or fragrances can have very powerful emotional effects. This is our olfactory system, it is powerful and can connect us to memories, they can draw us into a place of business, they can also help us relax or set a romantic atmosphere.

For me, the smell of frankincense brings back memories of my childhood and going to the Ukrainian Greek Orthodox church, it is the incense that is burned in the thurible.

Is there a favourite smell that brings back a special memory for you?

So why am I saying this is an issue if scents can have such a profound effect on us?

My biggest issue is how these chemicals disrupt hormones. They are another chemical that the liver has to process and break down to be eliminated. Our liver performs over 500 functions to support our body. When we breathe in these chemicals, our lungs are part of the body’s natural detox system as well. We are bombarded with so many chemicals from the outdoor environment as well as indoors. We can’t control what is happening outside for the most part, all we can control is our own personal space.

It is impossible to get away from chemical off-gassing, even in our own space. When I am working with clients, I encourage them to look at ways they can support their body by reducing as many factors as possible that could be affecting their health.

If you have heard the term endocrine disrupters, that’s what these chemicals are. Our endocrine system is where our hormones are made. Many of the chemicals are now found to be mimicking natural hormones which can cause an imbalance. An imbalance can start to cause health issues in both women and men.

If you are struggling with menopause symptoms, it would be good to look at how many fragrances you have in your home. The products we use to clean our homes, many are heavily fragranced because many people relate the smell to a home being clean. Doesn’t mean it is a healthy environment for us but we have been led by companies to equate the smell with clean and germ-free.

The products we use to clean our laundry, another created by companies to equate the fragrance to the clean air scent of it being dried outside or washed in rainwater. This is a false connection to nature. I have never understood wanting to have my laundry smell just laundered fresh weeks later. When a scent lingers that long, it can’t be good.

Advertising creates romantic scenarios of how the scent of a beautiful woman or handsome man can affect those around them. We can get drawn into the fantasy of it all if we want to have a similar experience. I’ll admit, a man telling me he misses the scent of my perfume can be very heartwarming and endearing.

Think of spices or even flowers, if they are left to dry in the open air, after a while the scent dissipates. It can be reactivated sometimes by rubbing or heating which helps to release the oils. Most true natural scents will not last for weeks on end when left in the open air.

Anyone who is suffering from headaches or migraines, it might be a good idea to eliminate all fragrances from their spaces to see if it helps.

Smoking has been banned because of the health consequences of secondhand smoke. In my view, these chemical fragrances are as bad as secondhand smoke and should be banned as well. 

Young girls are developing much earlier than in previous generations. Some young men are experiencing gynecomastia which is caused by a hormone imbalance. Fertility issues are being experienced by both females and males.

Creating chemical fragrances in a laboratory started in the early 1900s. Over the generations, more and more synthetic fragrances have been produced and companies have taken advantage of the power of a scent. This means, as each new generation is born, there is another level of toxicity that has affected their cells. It is not surprising to see the level of hormone disruption in both females and males.

You might be thinking, so do I throw out everything I have that is scented? No, I’m not about wasting money. 

I would suggest, when you run out of a product, replace it with an unscented version. My home cleaning products are baking soda for the bathtub and shower. I use 50% diluted mixture of vinegar and water for my windows and mirrors. I wash my toilets and floors with castile soap that has lavender essential oil. I have been using these products for almost 10 years and many people come into my space and say how fresh it smells.

What about perfume? Hopefully, after reading this you will consider toning down the amount of perfume or cologne you wear. When your perfume or cologne runs out, I would encourage you to explore the world of really good quality essential oils to create your own signature scent.

I have created a few essential oil mixtures that are well diluted in a carrier oil. A male friend of mine gave me a list of essential oils to create a scent for him, he receives many comments on how nice he smells and how people feel relaxed around him. One of my clients regularly purchases an essential oil blend I created, she has shared that she is often told how wonderful she smells.

Part of the experience I provide when a client comes for an Indian Head Massage is to take them on a sensory journey to select the essential oils that will help them relax. Our nose knows what we need.

A report I came across stated a list was compiled globally of 350,000 chemicals. Of those, 157,000 were identified by a Chemical Abstracts Service number, 75,000 were mixtures or compositions and 120,000 could not be conclusively identified. This paragraph speaks volumes “Analysis of the global inventory reveals that about one-quarter of the CAS-numbered chemicals are not included in the North American and European inventories commonly used to evaluate chemical exposure and impact. This finding shows that countries are making, using, or importing some 60,000 chemicals “that are not well understood and regulated,” Wang says.” Here is the link if you want to read the whole article

One of my tag lines is Healthy Woman – Healthy Planet and I truly believe this. If we give our body the best support to be healthy, our children will have a better chance of being healthy. What we put on our body and in our body is washed off or eliminated through urine and stool. These chemicals cannot be broken down once they go into the waste water which ends up in the environment. The only way we can change that is if we change what we do in our own personal space.

Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

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