May 30, 2019
Scent is a powerful thing. In fact, when it comes to memory recall and emotion, smell is the most poignant of all the senses. It has the ability to take us all back to our first loves, our first trip overseas… or even the teacher you really couldn’t stand in high school. That’s because it affects your body’s limbic system – the one responsible for emotion, memory and arousal.
Because of this, there are also certain essential oils and aromatherapy products that not only smell nice, but can have some therapeutic benefits too, helping you focus on your to-do list, calm your mind, or even give you that mid afternoon boost. Here are the ones to put on your radar.
Got a serious case of brain fog? There are a few essential oils that can help you wade through. First up is rosemary. Linked to memory for years, studies have actually found that there are certain chemical compounds in rosemary essential oil that can change the performance of your memory, by increasing a neurotransmitter that looks after cognition, learning and memory. Peppermint also has also been known to enhance alertness and concentration so could be a good one to stash in your bag before anything that tests your brain.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, citrus oils (think: orange, tangerine and lemon) are the ones that are often recommended for boosting energy. With their zingy, uplifting aromas, they’ll make you feel like you have extra pep in your step. But lemon oil in particular is thought to be a stimulant, powering up cognitive function thanks to the limonene content it contains. Other scents that get a look in here are eucalyptus oil, basil oil and again, peppermint oil.
Try: Badger Balm Cheerful Mind Balm, $16.95
Even the most zen of us get a little wound up sometimes. Whether it’s work stress, toddler stress, or just the effect of watching Game of Thrones, it can often feel like we’re holding our breath. That’s where these oils come into play. First up, there’s lavender which you no doubt already knew. Loads of small studies have been done on its calming and soothing effects, and it’s also thought to have anti-inflammatory properties too. Next, is the surprising addition of bergamot, which actually belongs to the citrus family. One 2015 study showed bergamot orange to reduce anxiety in rats (yes, rats). Then there’s Vetiver, which is a plant native to India and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for years. In one 2001 study it was found to be effective in treating ADHD in children because of its relaxing and calming properties, so if you’re feeling scattered or shattered, this is the oil for you.