Iris Stappen 

 University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria)

University of Vienna, Dept. of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Div. of Clinical Pharmacy and Diagnostics

  • Studies of Pharmacy and Doctorate in Natural Sciences, University of Vienna

  • State examination for pharmacists

  • Postdoctoral training at the the Department of Psychology, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, USA

  • Scientific research interests:

  • "scientific aromatherapy"

  • Psychophysiological effect of essential oils in humans

  • Essential oils in cosmetics

  • Antimicrobial effect of essential oils

  • Author of various articles on olfaction, essential oils and scientific aromatherapy as well as book chapters

  • Co-author of "Riechen und Fühlen. Wie Geruchssinn, Ängste und Depressionen zusammenspielen - Neue Wege der Behandlung" (2017) ISBN 978-3-903072-56-5; Dutch edition "De Neus" (2018)

  • Reviewer for numerous scientific journals

  • Board member of the Austrian Society of Scientific Aromatherapy and Aroma-care (OeGwA)

  • Member of the Austrian Pharmaceutical Society (OePhG)

  • Member of the University's committee of equal opportunities issues

  • Permanent speaker at the annual "Lehrgang für Medizinische Aromatherapie" for physicians and pharmacists


With every breath we take we inhale odor volatiles, most of the time without even noticing. As soon as these volatiles become intense, hazardous or are somehow emotionally connected to our brain we start sniffing and evaluating these odors.

Although it is said that humans have a rather modest sense of smell, we outperform animals - even dogs - when it comes to certain odors. Our olfactory system works better than we think and odors have a greater impact on our behavior and our decisions than we are aware of. This influence underlies some psychodynamic mechanisms that can be documented by scientific literature. A loss of the ability to smell lowers our quality of life and can lead to depression.

Especially essential oils, which are complex mixtures of highly active components with an intense odor, can be used therapeutically in complementary medicine. They can be either applied topically or inhaled.

There is another kind of odors that plays a rather important role in our lives: chemosignals that we produce to unconsciously communicate with our fellow human beings. Some studies have been performed on these odorants showing surprising results!