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Scott K Smith

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Sky News -- Woman's "Super Smell" Raises Parkinson's Hope


Healer. Artist. Intuitive.

Sky News -- Woman's "Super Smell" Raises Parkinson's Hope

Scott K Smith

I love articles and exposes like the one here presented on the BBC (Video) and through Sky News (article), below. I'm slightly rubbed when the alternative community jumps all over a topic like this and casts it in a "new age" light. 

Believe me. You may have worked with me, you know what it is that I do in a healing session or even in a consultation, there are "senses" and then there are senses that we can open up with awareness. I'd add that there is magick... but what is magick if not through the senses and connecting on those pathways to nature, to time, to tides, to each other? Magick isn't Hollywood witchcraft with flaming wands and broomsticks; although I do have both they don't quite work the same as a movie or popular culture would skew them. 

The "Woman who can smell Parkinson's Disease," for me, is magick. Not because she has special powers, but because she has gotten into her sense of smell, maybe--I don't know--into her own knowing what those senses are speaking to her. 

Meet the woman from Perth whose super sense of smell could change the way Parkinson's disease is diagnosed. 

Sky News Article:

A woman who can identify people with Parkinson's through her sense of smell has given rise to a study which could lead to early diagnosis of the disease and more effective treatment.

Joy Milne's own husband, Les, died earlier this year aged 65, after living with Parkinson's for more than 20 years.

Mrs Milne, 65, from Perth, told Sky News how up to six years before her husband was diagnosed with the disease she noticed how his smell had changed.

The former nurse said: "However, we weren't in contact with other people with Parkinson's so I didn't realise then that it was an individual smell to Parkinson's.

"It wasn't until we moved back to Scotland, to Perth, and we went to the Parkinson's group and when I went into the room, I thought 'Oh the smell is stronger'.

"I realised that then other people smelt.

"It could be strong with somebody, it could be weaker with somebody else, so that in actual fact whether they were controlled, or their disease was getting worse or their actual medication was working, I could actually identify."

And as a result of Mrs Milne's super-smelling observations, new research is to be carried out aimed at identifying small molecules secreted by the skin that are believed to emit a subtle but individual odour from people in the early stages of Parkinson's.

Experts think the disease may cause a change in the sebum, an oily substance that keeps the skin supple, resulting in a unique smell.

The researchers will analyse skin swabs to identify the small molecules found in people with Parkinson's, aimed at creating a diagnostic test.

The team will also use 'human detectors' - people with exceptional smelling abilities - to support the study.

Professor Perdita Barran, who is leading the research at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB), said: "The critical thing with what Joy did is that she noticed this smell change way before any of the motor symptoms or other symptoms associated with Parkinson's had kicked in.

"Early diagnosis is key to effective treatment, so that's going to be really useful for us."

One in 500 people in the UK have Parkinson's - which can leave people struggling to walk, speak and sleep - and has no cure or definitive diagnostic test.

Some 127,000 people in the UK live with the condition and 7.5 million worldwide.

Dr Arthur Roach, director of research at Parkinson's UK, which is funding the study, said: "Funding pioneering studies like this has the potential to throw Parkinson's into a completely new light.

"It's very early days in the research, but if it's proved there is a unique odour associated with Parkinson's, particularly early on in the condition, it could have a huge impact."

Dogs are able to sniff out certain types of cancer “in situ” or at stage zero, which is valuable when it comes to early detection of disease, says the InSitu Foundation. This is because dogs can smell in parts per trillion, like sniffing out one cc (less than a drop) of blood, diluted into 20 olympic-sized swimming pools.
— Medical Daily, "PULSE"

Nature Body

I can quote a bunch of different studies, and research, and even personal experience if I want to draw connections between nature, my senses, and a magickal practice. Again, magick as connecting to the natural world and not bedknobs and broomsticks--not to dismiss the mystical path of magick, I'm just focusing on the terrestrial aspects of what paganism; and so magickal paganism is about for me: Connecting to the body, the season, the land, and nature through my senses which are part of the communicating process of knowing.

My nature body talks to me through secondary senses, usually smell or feeling on the skin.  I have an intuitive knowing that occurs in my work but as I've worked, learned and trained this year I noticed how my sense of  smell opened up to different kinds of understanding about things. 

My body is nature... nature is my body, and I'd like to gather your attention around this every now and then:

What is happening in nature? What is the season? What is happening with the birds, the plants, the trees? What is my body's response?

As a curiosity. As a point of play or meditation, when you reach your quiet place, look at what your senses are speaking to you? We have many focuses, and often one or two senses that are dominant, and other "secondary senses" that may be activating and speaking to us in different ways. 

Gather Temple Los Angeles

New events are coming to LA, through the recently founded Temple Los Angeles. At least in name and spirit the Temple LA is already growing. I'm looking for more permanent space in the long term but in the short run I am opening up circles in parks, on mountains, at the beach, and also in public and private spaces. 

Our first Gather will be "Circle in the Park." We will meet in Elysian and gather into circle, connect to the spirit of place, and explore a nature and space through meditation, nature, and our senses. 

Please join me.
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Scott K Smith