When you smile at the scent of roses (they would smell as sweet if you called them zebras, says Shakespeare) or recoil at the stench of rotting food, you can thank your 6 million "smell cells."
But some folks - because of illness, nasal polyps, a deviated septum, neurological problems, medications, a zinc deficiency, thyroid disease or for no known reason at all - lose their ability to smell. That's called anosmia.
However, people with no smellers can detect some scents, such as menthol. It registers on pain and temperature sensors, not smell receptors. And non-smellers often can taste salty, bitter, sweet and sour flavors, but those like raspberry that require taste and smell to register don't make any impression. Sometimes anosmic folks register spices like pepper as sensations in the facial nerves, so they're felt rather than smelled.
If you can't tell whether a carton of milk passes the smell test, we suggest you get temporary smell-blockers such as polyps or sinus congestion cleared out and get tested for serious triggers, such as Parkinson's.
Next step? Try our duo of scentsible tips. Amp up your intake of alpha-lipoic acid found in spinach, broccoli and yeast. It protects nerves and eases inflammation. Then add a daily 600 mg supplement.
Fight inflammation (research highlights pro-inflammatory cytokines in nasal mucus as possible triggers of anosmia) by avoiding the five food felons: any grain that's not 100 percent whole, all added sugars and sugar syrups, and most saturated fats and all trans fats.
Now, that's snot so difficult.