Monday, October 23, 2006

Antidepressant Perfume Smells Like BS

The other day my roommate asked me if I'd heard of the "antidepressant perfume," something he'd seen in New York magazine. Whahappah?? I said. So I performed a Web search using google (is that the correct terminology these days?), and found a blog entry about it with a link that didn't work. Herein I shall reproduce the quote that the blog quoted from the site:
Prescription free happiness, now available?! Smiley offers a unisex and universal range of products with micro-nutrients to activate happiness! Its secret: the formula is based on natural bio-chemistry combining theobromine with phenylethylamine derived from pure cocoa extract. This psycho stimulant cocktail is available in a whole range of preparations using galenical pharmacology. A 100% medical look for a unique therapy, the range is revealed out of the confined box of the luxury perfume industry! This antidepressant remedy is to be consumed without any moderation: in the shower, in the bath, for specific use anytime you wish! The formulae are preserved in exclusive perfume bottles developed by the prestigious glassmaking techniques of Saint-Gobain and desinged by Ora-Ito, the most sought after designer of his generation. Nothing like it to contain the happy therapy!
Load of crap, as if you needed me to tell you. Granted, I'm not a doctor; I'm not a biochemist; I don't play either on TV; I don't know Hugh Laurie. But I don't think you need highly specialized knowledge to determine that a perfume containing minute amounts of allegedly psychotropic chemicals isn't going to act as an antidepressant. First of all--theobromine and PEA. Theobromine? Since when was that associated with well-being?! I thought for a moment that it was similar to caffeine; then I got the bright idea to wikipedia caffeine, and, sure enough it is. Caffeine is methyltheobromine. So I guess theobromine could have an effect, but I doubt it would affect your mood. But wait! Wikipedia says that theobromine can affect mood. Who knew! And PEA--well, PEA is supposed to skyrocket in your brain when you fall in love, and some antidepressants (and maybe illicit drugs; not sure) are derivative of PEA. I guess it could alter your mood if it got into your system and crossed the blood-brain barrier. Which brings us to the bigger questions:
  • How much of these chemicals could be in a few sprays of perfume?
  • Would they be absorbed through the skin?
  • Are they stable enough to survive on a store shelf long enough to be effective?
  • Do they not react with the other components of the perfume (eg, the fixatives, the fragrant materials)
I'm sure someone with knowledge of chemistry could point out other reasons why the whole idea of antidepressant perfume is preposterous. At least this one is. I guess if you wanted to produce an antidepressant perfume, you could simply spray the outer side (the one not touching the skin) of an EMSAM patch with fragrance. [Duh note: Do not do this! I am neither a doctor or a chemist; I do not endorse spraying medical devices with perfume.]

So much for the antidepressant perfume.


1 comment:

Laurie said...

U R so wrong about Smiley perfume! I have it and love it and one of my girlfriends & I have just located the additional items we've been waiting for...bath gel, deodorant, etc., and are going to order everything. You are wrong. Smiley smells great.