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Research of Aromatherapy’s Effects on the Brain

Several studies have been published tracking essential oils’ and aromatherapy’s effects on the brain…here’s a few for your reading pleasure! The first discusses the balancing of brainwaves between the hemispheres by inhalation of either Lavender or Rosemary essential oil. The second discusses the mood modulating properties of Peppermint and Ylang Ylang oils, with Peppermint being [...]

Several studies have been published tracking essential oils’ and aromatherapy’s effects on the brain…here’s a few for your reading pleasure! The first discusses the balancing of brainwaves between the hemispheres by inhalation of either Lavender or Rosemary essential oil. The second discusses the mood modulating properties of Peppermint and Ylang Ylang oils, with Peppermint being an excellent all-around pick me up, ylang ylang was found significantly calming…

Study: EEG asymmetry responses to lavender and rosemary aromas in adults and infants.

Sanders C, Diego M, Fernandez M, Field T, Hernandez-Reif M, Roca A.
Touch Research Institutes, Department of Pediatrics, University of Miami School of Medicine, P.O. Box 016820 (D-820), Miami, FL 33101, USA.

Frontal EEG asymmetry shifting from baseline was examined in adults and infants exposed to lavender essential oil and rosemary essential oil by reanalyzing previously published data, using techniques different from those utilized in the original two studies. Results from Study 1 on 39 adults revealed significant EEG shifting in the lavender group, with greater relative left frontal EEG activation (associated with greater approach behavior and less depressed affect). The participants in the two aroma groups were further grouped by those with greater baseline, relative to left frontal EEG activation, versus those with a greater baseline, relative to right frontal activation. Collapsing across aroma groups, those with greater baseline, relative to right frontal activation, shifted left during the aroma. Those with greater baseline relative to left frontal activation did not change. In the rosemary group, those with greater baseline relative to right frontal EEG activation shifted left during the aroma, while those with greater baselines relative to left frontal EEG activation shifted right. In the lavender group, those with greater baselines relative to right frontal baseline EEG activation shifted left, but those with greater baselines relative to left baseline did not shift. Study 2 on 27 full-term newborns revealed no significant shifts in asymmetry in either aroma group. However, when the aroma groups were collapsed, the right frontal EEG group exhibited significant shifting relative to left frontal EEG activation. This finding was similar to the adult findings, suggesting that either lavender or rosemary may induce left frontal EEG shifting in adults and infants who show greater baselines relative to right frontal EEG activation.

Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang.

Moss M, Hewitt S, Moss L, Wesnes K.Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit Division of Psychology, University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom.

This study provides further evidence for the impact of the aromas of plant essential oils on aspects of cognition and mood in healthy participants. One hundred and forty-four volunteers were randomly assigned to conditions of ylang-ylang aroma, peppermint aroma, or no aroma control. Cognitive performance was assessed using the Cognitive Drug Research computerized assessment battery, with mood scales completed before and after cognitive testing. The analysis of the data revealed significant differences between conditions on a number of the factors underpinning the tests that constitute the battery. Peppermint was found to enhance memory whereas ylang-ylang impaired it, and lengthened processing speed. In terms of subjective mood peppermint increased alertness and ylang-ylang decreased it, but significantly increased calmness. These results provide support for the contention that the aromas of essential oils can produce significant and idiosyncratic effects on both subjective and objective assessments of aspects of human behavior. They are discussed with reference to possible pharmacological and psychological modes of influence.

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