It is a well-known fact that a healthy lifestyle and diet play a key role in brain health. At the same time, essential oils are also beneficial for brain power.
Herbal practitioners as well as modern medicine have acknowledged the brain benefits of different essential oils.
These oils can help you with ‘brain’ work and deal with different cognitive problems, such as mental fatigue, low clarity, poor intellectual performance, impaired concentration, impaired memory, poor memory recall and lots more.
Basically, these oils are used in aromatherapy. Smell is the strongest of the senses and is best able to influence brain activity. The olfactory bulbs are part of the limbic system and are directly connected to the areas of the brain that process emotion and learning.
However, before learning how to use essential oils to boost your brain power, it’s important to know which essential oils are the best.
Here are the best essential oils for brain health.
1. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil has calming and relaxing properties that help put your nervous system in a parasympathetic rest-and-digest state. This soothing effect on the nerves helps relieve nervous tension and depression. It also gives a boost to cognitive abilities.
A 1998 study published in the International Journal of Neuroscience analyzed the effect of aromatherapy with lavender and rosemary essential oils on mood, electroencephalogram (EEG) patterns of alertness and math computations.
Researchers found that the lavender group showed increased beta power suggesting increased drowsiness, had less depressed mood and reported feeling more relaxed, and performed math computations faster and more accurately following aromatherapy.
A 2012 study published in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand reports that compared with base oil, lavender oil increased the power of theta (4-8 Hz) and alpha (8-13 Hz) brain activities.
2. Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil works as an effective cognitive stimulant, thus helping improve memory and mental focus. A major active chemical compound in rosemary essential oil is 1,8-cineole, which has been shown to improve memory.
Also, the smell of rosemary essential oil may help enhance prospective memory, which is basically the ability to remember upcoming events in order to complete future tasks.
It is also good at increasing brain-wave activities and protecting against neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
In a 2012 study published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, researchers found that exposure to rosemary aroma can improve cognitive performance and mood.
3. Lemon Essential Oil
The refreshing and soothing aroma of lemon essential oil is highly beneficial for brain health.
The scent of lemon essential oil promotes concentration. It also has calming and clarifying properties that are helpful for calming your mind, especially when feeling angry, anxious or run down. It even helps reduce stress.
At the same time, this essential oil inhibits key enzymes linked to neurodegenerative conditions and pro-oxidant-induced lipid peroxidation.
In a 2009 study published in Psychogeriatrics, researchers analyzed the effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Aromatherapy consisted of the use of rosemary and lemon essential oils in the morning, and lavender and orange in the evening.
At the end of the study, aromatherapy was found to work as an efficacious non-pharmacological therapy for dementia. It may have some potential for improving cognitive function, especially in patients with Alzheimer’s.
4. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil can stimulate the mind to support memory, focus, concentration and mental performance. Plus, it has a soothing and cooling effect that promotes relaxation and stimulates clear thinking.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine analyzed the effect of inhaled peppermint essential oil and other oils on mental exhaustion and moderate burnout. The study concludes that inhaling essential oils may reduce the perceived level of mental fatigue or burnout. However, further research is warranted.
The scent of peppermint also can stimulate the areas of the brain responsible for alertness (e.g., brain’s reticular activating system).
5. Cinnamon Essential Oil
The stimulating power in cinnamon essential oil benefits brain health. It can help fight mental fatigue and improve brain functioning related to attention, virtual recognition memory, working memory and visual-motor speed.
It helps break up brain plaque and reduce inflammation of the brain that can cause memory issues.
At the same time, it is effective in preventing as well as delaying the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2014 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine highlights the benefits of this essential oil for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
How to Use Essential Oils to Improve Brain Health
There are different ways in which you can use the powerful aroma of these essential oils to improve brain power and give a boost to your mental health. The five best methods are explained below.
1. Handkerchief Method
One of the simplest and best methods is the handkerchief method. Here you just need to put 2 or 3 drops of the essential oil of your choice on a handkerchief or just a tissue or cotton ball and sniff it occasionally.
You can also put the handkerchief near your pillow before going to bed. This way you can enjoy the aromatic benefits of the essential oil even while sleeping.
2. Pot and Water Method
Another method that you can try is the pot and water method.
- Put water in a small pot.
- Add 6 or 7 drops of the essential oil of your choice.
- Allow the water to boil until it’s steaming.
- Turn down the heat and keep the pot on the burner for a few minutes to allow the essential oil to evaporate into the air.
- If possible, walk around the house with a pot of steaming essential oil water to fill the air with the healthy goodness.
3. Aromatherapy Bath/Massage
Another easy way in which you can use essential oils is through an aromatherapy bath or massage. Like with other methods, you can use a few drops of a single essential oil or a combination of different essential oils of your choice.
For an aromatherapy bath:
- Mix 3 drops of an essential oil or a combination of essential oils in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil like olive oil, coconut oil or sweet almond oil.
- Add this oil blend in your bath tub filled with water and mix throroughly with your hand.
- Enjoy this relaxing bath for 15 to 20 minutes a few times a week.
You can also create a foot bath by adding 2 drops of an essential oil to a foot tub filled with water. Mix thoroughly, then soak your feet in it for 15 minutes.
For aromatherapy massage:
- Put 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of carrier oil like sweet almond oil into a bowl.
- Mix 10 to 12 drops of the essential oil/oils of your choice in it.
- Massage your forehead, temples, and/or back of the neck with this oil.
- Do this a few times a week.
Note: Do not get this oil into your eyes.
4. Homemade Solid Perfume Method
Solid perfumes can be used to boost your mental power by blending some essential oils in it. You can use a combination of different essential oils or choose just one depending upon your preference.
- Open a container of any commercial solid perfume or homemade solid perfume.
- Put a couple of drops of essential oil on the top of it.
- Close the lid properly.
- Whenever you need it, just dab a small bit of the perfume on your temples.
5. Candle Diffuser Method
Another simple method is the candle diffuser.
Before using this method, you need to buy a candle diffuser. Such products are readily available in the market. You can try any shop that sells essential oils.
- Put water on the top bowl of the candle diffuser and add a few drops of essential oil in it.
- Light a tea light underneath so that the heat evaporates the essential oil into the air around you.
You can also use an electric diffuser.
Note: As essential oils can be inflammable, be careful when using a candle diffuser.
6. Essential Oil Reed Diffuser
A reed diffuser helps release the healing and relaxing aroma of essential oils into the air.
When making a reed diffuser at home, make sure to pick a container with a narrow opening at the top so that the oil evaporates slowly.
- Take a small glass or ceramic container with a narrow opening.
- Put ¼ cup of fractionated coconut oil in the container.
- Add 20 to 25 drops of a blend of essential oils of your choice.
- Mix the oils with a wooden stick or simply a reed diffuser stick.
- Put 4 or 5 reed diffuser sticks in the container.
- Flip them after a few hours to place the opposite ends of the reed in the oil to help the oil travel up the sticks.
- Continue to flip the sticks once a week to refresh the scent.
You can also get reed diffusers in the market.
7. Mister Method
You can also get the benefits of aromatherapy by creating a mister.
- Add 1 to 6 drops of essential oil to a spray bottle filled with distilled water.
- Give it a nice shake and spray the oil-infused water in and around your surroundings.
- Use it as needed and change the water frequently.