Essential oils are believed to be effective because they are processed in the same part of the brain as emotions.
“The perception of smell consists not only of the sensation of odors themselves,” explains the Social Issues Research Centre. “But of the experiences and emotions associated with these sensations.”
The part of the brain responsible for processing this information is known as the ancient limbic system. It is one of the most primitive compartments composing the complex human mind.
Researchers say that before a scent is able to be identified by the brain, it has already triggered a more ingrained emotional response.
In a study conducted by the American Medical Association, essential oils lavender, cedarwood and vetiver were employed to show potential aroma-therapeutic benefits for those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, or ADD and ADHD respectively.
The results published by Dr. Terry Friedmann M.D. showed significant concentration and cognitive enhancement with use of the three oils.
Astonishingly, vetiver essential oil was shown to improve mental performance by 100 percent, according to the site Green Living Ladies.
Other essential oils found to enhance alertness and memory include peppermint and rosemary.
In a study of 44 volunteers assessing the cognitive effects of peppermint essential oil versus ylang-ylang, the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that peppermint essential oil efficiently enhanced cognitive performance while stimulating mood.
“Peppermint was found to enhance memory whereas ylang-ylang impaired and lengthened processing speed,” says the study. “In terms of subjective mood peppermint increased alertness and ylang-ylang decreased it, but significantly increased calmness.”
Many experts also claim that Rosemary essential oil acts as a cognitive stimulant, triggering the votive part of the brain, known as the ancient limbic system. It is said its rich and woodsy camphor-like fragrance stimulates the senses reaching into the brain to promote clarity.
Other Essential Oils of Interest
Some herbalist say that the frankincense represents ‘father’ energy, while myrrh stands for ‘mother energy.’ Both essential oils are plant-derived, and are harvested from shrubbery and the sap of bark. Frankincense is said to grow on the Arabian Peninsula, while Myrrh is said to be native to areas in Arabia, Ethiopia and Egypt. Both essential oils claim to carry powerful healing capabilites, including the ability to fight infections. Frankincense is even said to encourage a healthy lymphatic system, also promoting circulation.