Essential oils (which, as it turns out, aren’t really oils – but rather highly concentrated plant constituents) have a whole host of benefits, including helping your brain perform better. In this article, learn all about the different types of essential oils – and their specific functions – as well as how you can use essential oils in your everyday life!
How essential oil improves cognitive function
In a study conducted with both rosemary and lavender essential oil, researchers in England found that participants who were in a room scented with rosemary oil demonstrated performed significantly better in various memory tests, as opposed to those who were in the non-scented control room. Those in the lavender scented room, on the other hand, showed a significant decrease in performance on the same tests.
Why does rosemary improve memory? According to the researchers, certain compounds (such as 1,8-cineole) which are found in rosemary oil essentially perform the same functions as drugs which are licensed to treat dementia. These compounds cause an increase in a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine – which relay signals between your nerve cells and your brain.
Benefits of other essential oils
Another popular essential oil is lavender oil, and as demonstrated in the same experiment above, lavender is known to reduce anxiety and emotional stress and improve sleep. Other benefits of lavender also include alleviating headaches and migraines.
Whilst not as popular as lavender, chamomile is also another essential oil that is great for its calming properties. Many people have heard of chamomile tea as a natural remedy for insomnia, but if it’s too much trouble to put on a kettle to boil water for your tea, using chamomile oil will also achieve the same effects.
For women who suffer from painful cramps every time the dreaded time of the month rolls around, use clary sage oil to alleviate your discomfort. Clary sage, which carries a herbaceous and slightly floral scent, acts to reduce painful periods and PMS, and also helps with menopause symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats.
Geranium oil is also a great essential oil to add to your arsenal. This essential oil is a godsend to those with oily and acne prone skin, as it helps to balance hormones and reduce skin inflammations. As geranium oil is also an astringent, it’s also able to induce contractions in your skin when used on a regular basis, leading to tightened and toned skin, and less sagging.
Last but not least, basil isn’t just a herb that’s commonly used in cooking – it’s also an essential oil that helps with digestion and pain relief. Because basil oil can combat flatulence, it’s an ideal choice for treating indigestion, constipation, stomach cramps and other digestive issues. Basil oil is also an analgesic (read: a pain-killer), and can be used to treat general wounds and injuries, as well as headaches.
Using essential oils
You may use essential oils by either inhaling them, or applying them topically. For inhalation, a popular method involves adding one to two drops of essential oil to a bowl of steaming hot water. Using a towel, cover your head and bowl, and breathe in deeply and slowly. Do note that this is considered an extremely “direct” method of inhalation; as such, be careful not to use your essential oils sparingly in the process.
Apart the above method, you may also inhale your essential oils indirectly using a diffuser, or by putting a few drops on your pillow and/or cushion.
As for topical application, simply drop 2-3 drops in the palm of your hand, rub your palms together, then massage the oil into your temples, behind your ears, on your neck, or on your abdomen. If it’s your first time trying a specific type of essential oil, however, go easy and start off with just one drop, regardless of whether you’re inhaling your essential oil or applying it topically.