Woman ‘Sniffs Out’ Husband’s Parkinson’s Decades Before Diagnosis: What is a Super Smeller or Hyperosmia?
Hyperosmia (Photo Credits: File Image)

Joy Milne, a former nurse from Glasgow, Scotland is blessed with a unique ability – she has the power to sniff out someone’s disease. Thanks to this gift, she’s been designated as a “Super Smeller.” Joy told This Morning that she noticed a difference in the way husband smelled, describing a ‘woody-musky odour’ emanating from him. Being sensitive to smells, she realised it was quite different from how he used to smell in his 30s. Twelve years later, in 1985, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Her unique olfactory sense was studied by researchers who then found out that she has a sensitive nose. Joy’s highly-tuned sense organ could pick up the scents of sebum produced by Parkinson’s patients.  Want to Improve Your Brain Health? A Study Says That Inhaling Can Increase Your Thinking Capacity.

But that’s not the only smell she’s attuned to. She revealed to This Morning that she could pick up smells of other diseases like tuberculosis, cancer and Alzheimer’s. She described each as having a “brine-y”, “earthy” or “sweet” smell.

Joy first realised that she was blessed with this unique gift at age 21, when she could “smell” liver cancer while working as a student nurse. Although her observations weren’t taken seriously, she grew faith in her ability after she successfully sniffed out her husband’s health condition. What are Phantom Odours & Many People are Affected by This Phenomenon?

Who is a Super Smeller?

A “Super Smeller” can be described as someone with a heightened sense of smell known or Hyperosmia. Such people can categorise different types of smells and segregate them. In the novel Perfume – The Story of a Murderer, the protagonist Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, is someone with a heightened sense of smell, which he uses to his advantage.

A hyperosmic person can also detect the odour of disease by just sniffing them. A Lancet study describes people like Joy who are extremely sensitive to smell and can detect scents of diseases like Parkinson’s. The report also explores the possibilities of using hyperosmia as a tool for early detection of Parkinson’s.

From the times of Hippocrates, Galenus and Avicenna, using smell as a tool to detect disease was commonplace. Although its results are well-documented, western medicine rejects the premise of using hyperosmia as a tool for detection.