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Human odors—what can they tell us?

Contact Author John N. Labows, Jr.
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Natural human body odors may be an important source of information about body processes and may also provide an additional communications channel. Initially, our research efforts have been directed at chemically characterizing the odors which normally emanate from the body.

This information is used in an attempt to diagnose disease states, sexual receptivity, and stress. We are not involved in creating new odors but in knowing the chemical nature of the human odor bouquet. An understanding of’ these natural odors from different parts of the body will allow the perfumer to create other odors which will blend with or mask the natural ones, In addition, there is a real possibility that skin odors may be involved in a human communication system.

Present analytical methods such M headspace concentration, gas chromatography, and the combination of gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) have made it possible to separate and identify raw quantities of organic compounds. GC/M S profiling of the small organic compounds present in body secretions, such as blood serum and urine of diseased and healthy individuals, provides useful diagnostic information. 

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