There is a common myth going around that if you dislike an essential oil it what your body needs. If you flip that sentence around and said, ‘If you are attracted to an essential oil, it could be your body telling what you need’ then you might be closer to the truth. I guess that rumor came out on opposite day.
Our sense of smell is used as an means of protection. Smells create chemical responses to stimuli, hence the wave of chemical response in the stomach when confronted with a negative smell. In contrast, a yummy smell may make someone hungry because it sends a chemical response that stimulates the gastric juices.
On the Essential Oil University Facebook page Myth #11, Dr. Pappas puts it this way, “Our bodies generally tell us when we need something or should stay away from something, especially when it has to do with things that can harm us. In fact, the ability to smell was probably among the most valuable of senses to early humans and those who had a good nose along with the intelligence to listen to their nose had a competitive advantage for survival over those who lacked such ability. The ability to smell and know when a plant is poisonous or when food was spoiled would have been paramount to survival in early humanity” (Pappas).
Scent memories also play a role in how we perceive a scent. When I first started in the aromatherapy world I thought patchouli smelled like dirt and mold, but now I love it. I discovered, in one of my informal non-scientific research studies, that how people feel about patchouli essential oil is directly related to their scent-memory of it. When we had an aroma-party plan I used to pass around patchouli essential oil when I talked about scent-memories. I found that those who responded positively to the aroma had a good to great scent-memory associated with it. And those that responded very negatively to it had bad scent-memories associated with patchouli. I and many others, who had almost no scent memory of it, were indifferent to the aroma of it. There is nothing formal about my research, but I have continued to ask questions in my 20 years in the aromatherapy world, and I get the same result today as I did then.