My Health: A leading 'nose' tells all

Sabine de Tscharner, 44, is a perfumer with international company Firmenich, creator of one of the new Liz Earle Indulgent Bath & Body fragrances. Here, she shares her health secrets - including the fact that for the first 13 years of her life, she could hardly smell a thing... Sabine_de_TscharnerMy work is to create fragrances, but as a child I could smell virtually nothing. I had continuous sinus infections, so my nose was always blocked.

When I was 13, a doctor recommended surgery to correct a congenitally narrow passage between my sinuses and my nose. I had the operation just before Easter and afterwards I remember smelling the early spring flowers for the first time and thinking, ‘I’ve been missing out!’

I had always been a creative child, but I couldn’t draw, play music or sing. When my mother told me I now had a good sense of smell, I had this ‘aha!’ moment. At dinner one night, I declared that I wanted to be a perfumer – although, at 14, I didn’t really know what that meant. I just knew I wanted to create smells: I already dreamed of mixing different notes and would wake up and tell my  mother, ‘If you add cinnamon to this or that, it would be interesting.’ Later I undertook the five-year training to become a ‘nose’.

Taste is intimately connected to smell and like most perfumers I love food and wine. But I avoid spicy foods and red wine during the week because they interfere with my sense of smell.


You can train your brain to recognise and store different smells. But people function differently: I have a great olfactive memory but a poor auditory one – tell me something and I forget it immediately.

I don’t get sinus infections now and the occasional cold goes away quickly. I have a flu shot to avoid getting bugs passed on by my two young daughters. Chinese doctors use smell to diagnose illness and I certainly know when one of my children doesn’t smell right.

I can’t wear scent at work but I experiment with new fragrances at weekends. I prefer citrus and green notes. I also love the Italian bergamot and ginger scent I created for the Liz Earle Indulgent Bath & Body Collection – it’s soft, sensual and calming. Find Creamy Shower Nectar, £12.50, and Silky Body Lotion, £14.50, at


Q I am 21 and suffer from extreme facial flushing and swelling. I have seen various doctors and tried different treatments in vain. Can you help?

A The underlying problem with this type of skin challenge is often chronic inflammation. Naturopathic doctor Nigma Talib ( recommends:

• An anti-inflammatory diet, organic if possible, with oily fish, bright-coloured vegetables and fruit, olive oil, ginger and turmeric; drink digestion-boosting aloe vera juice and use filtered water.

• Food sensitivities may exacerbate the problem, so do check if the flushing is worse after certain foods or drinks. (Rosacea is notoriously susceptible to alcohol, for instance.)

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 15.05.12• An imbalance of gut flora – the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria – is common. Pharmacist Shabir Daya recommends taking Mega Probiotic ND/£18.50 for 60 capsules, and detoxing turmeric in the form of Super Bio-Curcumin/£27.75 for 60 capsules, and applying Sheald Recovery Balm/£43 for 60ml). All products above are from



For those with a food allergy or sensitivity, check out the latest FreeFrom Food Awards. High-scoring products include gluten- and wheat-free Voakes Free From Pork Pie (from £2,, and Coyo Coconut Milk Yoghurt, which is dairy- and gluten-free, in natural and four other flavours (from £1.99, and selected Waitrose).



CuskibooA desperate email from Australian friends asks where to get extra Cuskiboos. I had sent over this baby comforter when Marlon, now one, was born and a year later he won’t sleep without it. Cuskiboo, the brainchild of two mums, is made from organically grown bamboo which, because of its high absorbency, carries the mummy/baby scent, and has been shown to help bonding in midwife tests with newborns and is NHS-approved. £16.99 for one, £23.99 for a pair at