I have just discovered that muscles have odour detectors! I came across a TED Talk from Jennifer Pluznick (2016) which discusses the discovery of odor detectors, called olfactory detectors, in the nose and more significantly, throughout the body, including muscles.
In the Ted Talk, Pluznick explains that olfactory receptors were discovered in 1991, they are abundant in the body and they are responsible for the detection of odors. They are found in the nose but are also found all over the body, for example in the kidneys, muscles and blood vessels. They 'act as sensitive chemical sensors' which detect the changes in chemicals in the body. She explains that even sperm appear to use olfactory receptors to determine which way they should swim. Pluznick's studies investigate the effect of these receptors on the kidneys. Particularly how they help the kidneys maintain the body's homeostasis, its healthy balance.
So I wonder what these olfactory sensors do in our muscles? This is apparently being researched so maybe there will be a TED Talk on it sometime soon! It made me wonder though if when we massage muscles would we be affecting these sensors in any way? Massage effects chemicals in the body because it can help the body's nervous system switch from stress response (sympathetic nervous system) to rest and repair (parasympathetic nervous system), this helps to halt the production of the hormone cortisol. Cortisol prevents muscle growth, so my question is, do the tiny olfactory receptors smell/detect these changes? I came across an article which discusses an odorant (MOR23), which in non scientific speak, is a small part of a olfactory receptor. It says that 'MOR23 is necessary for normal tissue repair in skeletal muscle' and the TED talk comments on olfactory receptors in the lungs being linked to tissue repair. I wonder if a relaxing massage and its role in cortisol reduction is sniffed out by the little orodant, known as MOR23. I have probably got the complete wrong end of the scientific stick here but I thought I'd share my wonderings while I wait for the TED Talk!
Here's Jennifer Pluznick TED Talk and click here for the article about the odorant MOR23.