Woman Can Smell Parkinson’s Disease | Wednesday Checkup

– We’ve all heard that dogs
have an amazing sense of smell, something along the lines of
10,000 times more powerful than the human nose. And we’ve even heard some stories of dogs being able to
smell diseases like cancer. But are there humans out there
who can do the same thing, like smell diseases? That’s what we’re talking about on this week’s Wednesday Checkup. Bewhoop! (upbeat hiphop music) It’s true. Dog noses are actually amazing
at how well they can smell. That’s why I’ve always been puzzled as to why dogs run to
smell each other’s butts when they’re meeting each other. Gotta be kinda gross. In reality, there’s a percentage
of the human population who do have a heightened sense of smell. We call this percentage of
the population super smellers. The medical term for being
able to smell really well is called hyperosmia. And while one may think
that it’s pretty cool to be able to have a
heightened sense of smell, it actually can be
considered a medical disorder for which people seek treatment. It can happen as a result
of a genetic disorder, hormonal imbalance, or even
a medication side effect. It wasn’t until recently though that we in the medical
community have realized that there’s an untapped potential of these human super smellers that we can be using for medical research. In fact, today, I’m gonna be
covering a very unique case of a grandmother from
Scotland who has the ability to smell Parkinson’s
disease on human skin. For those of you who may not know, Parkinson’s disease is a
progressive, degenerative, neurological, movement disorder. And don’t let all those words scare you. It’s quite simple. Let me explain. Progressive means as time
goes on it gets worse. Degenerative means there’s
actually damage being done. Neurological means we’re affecting the central nervous
system, a.k.a. the brain. And movement disorder describes the type of symptoms we generally
see with Parkinson’s. Now, this disorder affects
10 million people world-wide. And it usually happens
above the age of 50, but up to 4% of cases
happen earlier than that. The scariest part? We don’t have a cure. In fact, we don’t really have a test to diagnose Parkinson’s disease. The most common symptoms
that we see with Parkinson’s are those affecting movement. Think tremors, shaking, difficulty with swallowing,
speaking, or even walking. Two of the most widely-known individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s
disease are Muhammad Ali and Michael J. Fox. Michael J. Fox actually
established a foundation for the disorder and has
raised millions of dollars to try and find a cure. Let’s talk about this very
unique grandmother and nurse from Scotland, Joy Milne, who is able to smell Parkinson’s
disease on human skin. It’s crazy even saying it right now. I can’t believe that I’m saying it. It is true, and how she found
out is truly an incredible and unique story. When her husband, Les,
was about 30 years of age, she noticed that his body odor changed. His scent changed. It became more muskier. And while she did mention
it to him a few times. They sort of brushed it off. She didn’t wanna keep
complaining about it, so she just left it as is. Fast-forwarding 10 years later, her husband was diagnosed
with Parkinson’s disease and attended Parkinson’s
disease group meetings. During one of those
meetings that Joy attended, she realized that every patient in there who had the disorder smelled
exactly like her husband. And it sparked something in her mind that perhaps there’s a connection
between this musky scent and the disorder. After a period of time, they
attended a research convention, where one of the leading researchers on the disorder was making a presentation. Afterwards, Joy Milne raised her hand and asked a question
if there’s a connection between scent and Parkinson’s. This confused the researcher, Tilo Kunath, because he wasn’t sure if she
wasn’t talking about the fact that some patients who have Parkinson’s lose the ability to smell. Upon clarifying her point and saying that she believes there’s a connection between the scent of a
human and the disorder, he was completely puzzled
and actually intrigued. Afterwards, Kunath wanted
to put Joy’s sense of smell to the test. So he gathered 12 participants, six who were diagnosed with
Parkinson’s, six who were not. And he had them wear a T-shirt
for a period of 24 hours. Afterwards, he let Joy
smell those T-shirts. Guess what happened? Out of the six that had
Parkinson’s disease, she correctly identified them. Of the six who did not
have Parkinson’s disease, she said one of them was positive. At the moment, they thought she was wrong. However, eight months later, it turns out that person was now diagnosed with Parkinson’s as well. I mean, how incredible is her nose? Once her talents were
verified, scientists sat down and tried to brainstorm
what was the best way to make use of Joy’s talent. They decided to create
a research experiment to identify the molecules
that Joy’s nose was picking up when she was correctly identifying
the scent of Parkinson’s. When they tested 60 individuals, 43 of which had Parkinson’s, they were able to isolate
four specific compounds that were present in different levels when the Parkinson’s scent was present. Three of those compounds
actually increased, and one of them decreased. So now that we have all this information, where do we go from here? Well, the idea’s to catch
Parkinson’s disease early because currently the way we
diagnose is through symptoms. And once symptoms have occurred, that means the damage
has already occurred. If we’re able to diagnose
Parkinson’s earlier, we’re able to study the
disease more accurately. Now, if we can find certain points where we can insert a
medication or another treatment to modify the progression of this disease, that could be a major breakthrough
in Parkinson’s research. What’s even more amazing is that Parkinson’s is not the only disease that Joy Milne can smell. She states that cancer, Alzheimer’s, even liver disease all have unique smells. I don’t think anywhere in the near future we’re gonna have individuals
who are super smellers running around hospitals, trying to diagnose certain diseases early. What I do think can happen is we can use the abilities
of these super smellers to identify which diseases
have unique scents, and therefore, create
certain screening tests where we’re able to screen
the general population and catch these diseases early,
so that we can intervene. I wanna give a huge thank
you to the Milne family, to their contributions
to Parkinson’s research. And I’m gonna drop some links down below in the description box for further reading and if you’d like to donate to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, who interestingly enough
awarded grant funding to the research that
Milne was associated with. I’ve also been tempted to make a series diving into the complexities
of different organs in our body, maybe starting with the nose. If you’d like to see that, drop it down below in the comments. And I put together a playlist for you that I know you’re absolutely gonna enjoy. Click here, and as always,
stay happy and healthy. (upbeat hiphop music)

100 thoughts on “Woman Can Smell Parkinson’s Disease | Wednesday Checkup

  • Yes! Educate me! I want to know the good, bad and ugly (as well as the weird and interesting) details about each of my organs! Be sure to number each part (nose 1, heart details 1, etc.) ❤️⭐I love you Dr Mike! Keep up the good work!

  • Hey doctor mike! I have bumps on the backs of my arms that sort of look like pimples but they’re not. could you explain what they are?

  • Please do an episode on ankylosing Spondylitis. I have it and no one really knows what it is there arnt many good videos or info out there. Also fibromyalgia because so many people think it's made up.

  • am i a super smeller? i can smell certain smell from much much further away than my peers, but also have the feeling that most food smells something like puke – thus hating it when a coworker eats at his desk … we have a freaking lunch/break room 😣

  • My little sister who is just 12 years old watches your video with great interest and and she loves learning about various diseases which you explain in your video… Now she also wants to become a doctor… Great job Dr Mike ❤️

  • Imagine having such a great talent where you can pick up the scent and diagnose anyone with multiple diseases…..
    so the human population labels you "Super smeller".

    And I thought "Ant man" was bad.

  • Can you do a video on sciatica? For years now I’ve been dealing with lower back pain and haven’t been able to stand for too long or sleep on my back due to the outer part of my left thigh going numb. I read online that it could be a symptom of sciatica but I would like to know more about it before I jump to conclusions.

  • I learnt about Parkinson`s disease though Michael J fox and i think this is a fab video you have put together on what it intales,as so many people have no idea what it does or the symptoms please do a video on the nose many thanks

  • As some else comented pregnant women are supper smellers, including me but regardless when I am or not pregnant still to this day…sometimes its awful depending on the smell/scent I can smell things depending what they are and can usually distinguish pretty well where they are. Or at least pretty close to where they are in the house even if I am on the second floor I can guide the kids to look for stuff they hid or forgot about before usually their toy bin or behind the tv stand etc. floor of my house, I think it come naturally since women are suppose to protect and nurture their young, its like bodys intuition to sense differences in the environment, forget about finding dirty sock, I have become en expert, and i think thats kind of how the nose get instictively trained to sence certain thins sometimes i think it come nuturally but something you can train yourself to smell better, Ilike smoke i can smell from very far distances is impresive, but i think it due to having the smell ingained in my sences that it makes it seem natural to mme anyways althiugh my family might not think so. And sometimes it can be discusting too, specially when changing a diaper, or spotting rotten food just by scent knowing what food cathegory and everyone else saying your crazy. Or as my daughter tells me …wow mom that nose of your…

  • It must be difficult for her to be able to have that insight about people. What if she stood close to a stranger on the bus or walked past someone on the street and could smell a chronic disease? She would be able to know something depressing about them, whether they knew it yet or not.

  • I would love to hear you explain connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Feel free to reach out if you need any help, I am currently studying it and would love to spread awareness. My instagram is @sarajanestruggles

  • I would love to know if there are any special opportunities for people with Hyperosmia to showcase their ability. I am pretty sure I have it, but have never gotten it officially diagnosed. Any info would be awesome! Thanks!! ☀️😍

  • Dr Mike, have you ever seen the show Monsters Inside Me? I’ve been watching it and it’s crazy how sick we can get from everyday activities 😭

  • My sense of smell is so annoying and I just found out it is a feature of hormone imbalance. I pray with treatment it will be resolved because I hate leaving my house because I can smell Everything.

  • A deep dive into body parts/regions would be awesome!!! I'd absolutely be on board for that.
    It's so hard to find anything even vaguely anatomical in terms of education that it's as dry as stale bread. I feel like you'd really add a bit of enthusiasm to it.

  • Very interesting!! I'm extremely sensitive to smells but I don't know that I can/could identify different diseases. However I've been sick in bed for the last 10 years of my life…a third of my life. So it would be interesting to see if I would be able to smell others and "dx" them with with a condition.

  • Iam able to smell the hormonal Change before my Period in my sweat. So I know a day or at least a few hours before the bleeding Sets in that it Starts. I even smelled that I would give birth twice. It is the same smell. By my second pregnancy I told my gyn that nect time we would see us i would havw my Baby in my arms,and explained to him that i smelled that . He dismissed it as Nonsense. Well HE was wrong 😁
    I told my husband that long Times ago and he is now able to smell it as well.

  • Interestingly enough, 5 of my father's 8 Aunts and Uncles suffered with, and passed away from Parkinson's Disease. They used to always say that there was absolutely no genetic connection with the disease. However about 15 years…give or take a few, my great Aunts and Uncles were part of a study to learn more and see if there could possibly be a genetic component. We never got the results from that study, unfortunately.

    There is always room for environmental impact as well though as well…who really knows.
    It's really sad…the one was a brilliant brain surgeon. His last surgery he knew during it that it was going to be the last…I can't imagine having lost such a great carreer…and he was young too!!

  • I love unusual medical/scientific stories like this! It opens so many doors to so many questions and possibilities, which means more potential answers for revolutionary changes and improvements in science and medicine. It makes me wonder, as Parkinson’s disease is a neurological condition, and the transmission of hormones and chemicals via synapsis, and with there being such thing as pheromones in humans, if there may be some sort of link with Parkinson’s disease and hormonal imbalances that there may or may not be a cause for. Which may in effect, cause damage to neurones later on due to the inefficient or irregular activity of the cells. I mean, I’m just saying this from hearing about this for the first time after watching your video alone and maybe some research has been done already and they have found some theories completely different to what I’m thinking, who knows.. 🤔🤷🏻‍♀️ right now, not me lol

  • That was really interesting! Could you please do a video on epilepsy? I was diagnosed this february and I'd like to hear from you about this condition

  • My cat acted very weirdly when I got glandular fever (mononucleosis). He stopped nagging me food and wouldn't leave me alone. I tried to go to work and he kept climbing on my lap and he followed me to the bus stop which he never did before or since.

  • I feel sorry for people that have hyperosmia, like my nose can’t stand strong smells like air fresheners, some perfumes, etc because I get very nauseous, I get a headache and sometime my nose feel really weird but if hyperosmia person can smell really well, they should become a doctors.

  • This is really fascinating. I’d love more on the “super smellers” and “super tasters” and so on. Coming from the average person, it’s really intriguing.

  • It's mind-blowing! Btw, doctors say people with Asperger's Sindrom are hypersensitive, some of us are very sensitive to smells, I wonder if that could be of any use, or if there are more studies done as to why this is the case.

  • I feel like I have a hyper sense of smell. It’s often more annoying than a benefit because a lot of smells give me headaches or nauseated even when other people can either barely smell them or can’t at all. Eating pasta is hard because the smell of warm tomato sauce make me feel sick.

  • I'm not exactly a "super smeller" per say because there are some things my nose has primarily blocked the smell of but because of my sensory processing disorder there's other things I can smell from like a mile away. Because of my chemical sensitivities the smell of perfume/cologne, cleaning products/air fresheners, gum, toothpaste, and balloons bother me but because of this I can also smell the change in seasons which is beautiful so I take the bad with the good. I also love the smell of caramelizing onions so much that I wish I could use that as a fragrance in place of all the ones that bother me, haha…

  • I think just about anyone can identify the smell of a person with liver failure. It's very distinct and pretty strong. I always bring that up when trying to convince someone to cut back on or stop drinking alcohol. You don't want to end up yellow, stinky, and with a big swollen belly.

  • Doc Mike would you consider making a video about Polycystic Ovary Syndrome? Please educate us more! God bless and thank you 😊

  • So, I've got a condition wherein all my senses have been overcharged. My hearing, smell, eyesight (including colour sensitivity), touch, heat sense etc, they're all stronger than they should be. It kinda makes me feel pain all the time, and makes it hard to sleep because of everything going on around me.
    Never realised it could be used for medical purposes.

  • The amount of education you give Mikhail is wonderful. And a series of you giving detailed information of the human body sounds very inspiring to say the least. We would be very thankful for the time you will put on these series.

  • So when Kim Kardashian said that she can smell cavities in people there's an actual possibility for it to be true? 🤔 Hmmmm

  • i think it would be interesting if you could do a segment on the human brain, mind, and genetics/dna. i'm a huge science buff and strongly believe that the human mind and brain should be further looked into with regards of slowing some diseases or even curing some of them. i'm not completely sure how sound my theory is, but i would greatly enjoy having or watching a discussion about the human brain and mind.

    thank you for your time,

  • wow, i cant even believe that is true.
    she can change the entire way of diagnosing Parkinson. I am so happy she might actually change the world to be a better place.
    also would like to know hoe she does smell that scent.
    also, is there a way to smell other diseases and train humans or dogs to do it?
    please do more videos abut any updates this is so exciting 😀

  • Is it possible for people to have no sense of smell? I have two friends that legitimately have grown up all their lives not being able to smell things. People sometimes wouldn't believe them, but regardless, how is this possible?

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