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Anxiety Stinks

  • Anxiety literally makes the world stink. The olfactory sense has a unique intimacy with emotion. Unlike other senses, the olfactory neuroanatomy is intertwined via extensive reciprocal axonal connections with the primary emotion areas of the brain: the amygdala, hippocampus, and orbitofrontal cortex. Research has shown that olfactory stimulation can directly activate amygdala neurons, causing people experiencing increased anxiety to have a decrease in the perceived pleasantness of odours. This perception becomes more negative as anxiety increases.1
  • Australians are increasingly turning to addictive substances and behaviours to help relieve emotional stress. A survey conducted in 2015 by the Australian Psychological Society found that those who reported the highest levels of distress, depression and anxiety symptoms were more likely to engage in recreational drug use, smoking and drinking alcohol, as well as gambling and playing video games, in order to help manage their emotional anxiety.2 Prescribing Natural Medicines to support your patients’ mental health may reduce reliance on recreational substance use or maladaptive behaviours and increase positive health outcomes.
  • Helping to make happy sperm. Anxiety and infertility are common co-presentations in clinic. Recent evidence has demonstrated that the use of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may impact negatively upon male fertility. A 2016 review of animal and human studies noted that SSRIs negatively affected semen parameters, reduced DNA integrity in sperm and may also delay ejaculation. Consequently, assessing mood and antidepressant use are important factors in any investigation of male infertility.


  1. Krusemark E, et al. When the sense of smell meets emotion: anxiety-state-dependant olfactory processing and neural circuitry adaptation. J. Neuroscience. 2013;33(39):15324-15332.
  2. Australian Psychological Society. Stress & Wellbeing: how Australians are coping with life. [Online]. Available from URL: [Cited 4/8/16].
  3. Health World Australia/ fast facts issue 9 2016
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