Finding aroma clues in the human breath to diagnose diseases
History of human odor analysis in disease diagnosis The use of the sense of smell as an indicator of human disease probably originated with Hippocrates (circa 400 BC). Early medical practitioners recognized that the presence of human diseases changed the odors released from the body and breath. Physicians once relied heavily on their sense of smell to provide useful clues for identifying the causes of human ailments. Descriptive terms were used to describe odors (or aromas) associated with specific human diseases and disorders (Fig. 1). This odor information was a valuable tool for physicians to assess patients’ conditions and help diagnose diseases centuries before modern analytical instruments became available for this purpose. Odor recognition by human smell was used by doctors (with diminishing emphasis) up until the early 1980’s, just before electronic noses (e-noses) came on the scene.