The Science of Improving Memory, Lifting your Mood & Sleeping Better with Essential Oils
Scientific data affirming the positive benefits of essential oils for a better quality of life is growing. Because we just love this stuff, we want to share with everyone.
Simply smelling the aroma of essential oils resulted in research subjects getting better test scores, sleeping better, reducing stress and scoring themselves as generally happier people*.
Most of us would be pleased with feeling better in any one of these three areas of our well-being. Yet we find the science behind aromatherapy offers us an opportunity to improve all three.
Getting Smarter with Essential Oils
There’s a wealth of research finding that bright, high-note herbal and citrus essential oils can speed up memory recall, improve test scores, and may actually slow the brain’s aging process.
How do essential oils do this? It appears that these effects result primarily from inhibition of acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme which breaks down acetylcholine in our central nervous system.
Acetylcholine is our primary “information processing” neurotransmitter, and the activity of enzyme which breaks it down is markedly increased in those individuals suffering from cognitive decline.
Limiting the activity of this enzyme, so we have more acetylcholine available, may also slow brain aging. According to research published in the Japanese Journal of Oleo Science: “Essential oil from lemon peels inhibit key enzymes linked to neuro-degenerative conditions and pro-oxidant induced lipid peroxidation”.
This research supports other studies which have shown inhalation of Lemon and Rosemary essential oils had positive effect on those already diagnosed with dementia, and also supports their use a as a possible preventative measure.
Other research has shown similar results with of Basil and Melissa as well. We’ve included these, along with Rosemary and Lemon, in our
new Get Smart formula.
Sleeping Better with Essential Oils
There’s also a great many studies showing essential oils can improve your sleep, and we all know how important it is to get a good night’s rest. Lavender is of course “the biggie”, with more research backing its sleep-enhancing activity more than any other aromatic.
One placebo-controlled study titled “An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women” found: “Lavender increased the percentage of deep or slow-wave sleep (SWS) in men and women. All subjects reported higher vigor the morning after lavender exposure, corroborating the restorative SWS increase. Lavender also increased stage 2 (light) sleep, and decreased rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep and the amount of time to reach wake after first falling asleep (wake after sleep onset latency) in women…”
Another study published this year titled “Effects of aromatherapy on sleep quality and anxiety of patients” found a statistically-significant improvement in quality of sleep in patients in coronary ICU’s.
This was an important finding, as these patients cannot easily withstand the bombardment of pharmaceutical sedatives for sleep, but they do need sleep. The gentle scent of Lavender can result in deeper, more restful sleep without any known side effects.
To read more of the published research, visit Pubmed.gov and search for “essential oil and sleep”.
We’ve blended Lavender with other essential oils traditionally used for a better night’s rest and lessening anxiety without stimulation: Clary Sage, Myrrh, Cajeput, Ylang Ylang and Valerian.
Getting Happier with Essential Oils
Lessening our anxiety levels is all something we’d like to do, as we know it makes us both happier and healthier. Several essential oils have been thoroughly researched for this “anxiolytic” property.
Many oils have been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, our “stress hormone”, as well as contribute to an overall better quality of life as reported by aromatherapy test subjects.
Study after study has shown that animals and humans have lowered stress response after exposure to Bergamot, frequently compared to Diazapam (Valium) it it’s reduction of “stress measurements” (cortisol levels, for example), though it is not an oil that puts one to sleep. While research has shown that Lavender is stress-reducing, some study authors have noted its sedative effects. Bergamot lessens stress while making us more present and awake to what’s going on around us.
Sweet Orange essential oil is another with scientific backing in this regard. In “Effect of sweet orange aroma on experimental anxiety in humans”, the researchers concluded: “the present results indicate an acute anxiolytic activity of sweet orange aroma, giving some scientific support to its use…by aromatherapists.”
With Bergamot and Sweet Orange, we’ve blended the uplifting notes of Juniper Berry and the soothing ones of Vetiver to create our Be Happy formula.
Thank you for reading!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.