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5 Essential Oils to Improve Your Memory and Focus

July 3, 2014

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By now, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about essential oils. First used by the Egyptians and Babylonians, today essential oils can be found in everything from lotion to hand soap to shampoo. So what is it about these potent potions that has made them a holistic staple for thousands of years?

Well, essential oils have some incredible medicinal properties when inhaled or applied topically to the skin—typically the wrists, palms, or scalp. They are also the basis of aromatherapy, the practice of enhancing psychological and physical well-being through the regular use of a plant’s aromatic oils.

Though this alternative medicine practice might seem like a practice for the crystal-wearing crowd, aromatherapy actually began in Europe and has been embraced by Western medicine. Aromatherapy is used cure a variety of maladies while boosting other bodily processes. In particular, essential oils can profoundly improve memory, helping to boost both your focus and your recall time.

Here are some of the most effective memory-enhancing aromatherapy scents: 

1. Rosemary:

This sharp and camphorous scent has been shown to enhance proscriptive memory, which is the ability to remember things happening in the future. If you’ve been having trouble recalling your schedule—when to pick up the mail, when to schedule your next chiropractor appointment—then this is the ideal essential oil for you. Try rubbing it on your palms in the morning as you review your schedule or add a few drops to a relaxing bath at night while you rejuvenate for the next day.

2. Basil:

The sweet and refreshing scent of basil can help ameliorate both poor memory and fatigue-induced distraction. Before heading into a late night study session or prepping for tomorrow’s big presentation, inhale basil essential oil deeply. Place a reed diffuser containing 20-25 drops of basil essential oil near your study space for increased effectiveness. 

3. Cyprus:

If you’re looking for a subtler fragrance, try cyprus essential oil. This evergreen scent can help to increase concentration without suffusing your entire house with the scent of licorice, à la basil essential oil and some of the other more pungent oils. 

4. Peppermint:

In need of a natural morning pick-me-up that doesn’t involve caffeine or a rooster? Try peppermint essential oil. This spicy and fragrant scent helps to wake up the mind, focus your senses, and improve your memory. Plus, it’s a natural cure for headaches. If you’re working to wean yourself off of the morning caffeine routine, this is the essential oil for you.

5. Sage:

This natural essential oil acts as a stimulant to boost your senses in the morning, without any of the crash you experience with caffeine or sugar. Pair with lemon oil or black pepper oil for complementary scents that will enhance your memory and kick-start your morning routine.

What’s your favorite essential oil to enhance focus or memory? Tell us in the comments section below!

About the author

Emily Feldon is a Wellness Today contributor and certified Health Coach. Having grown up on a farm in southern Vermont, she has a deep appreciation for food and enjoys coming up with and sharing delicious recipes to fit every different diet. Luckily, her hungry husband is happy to be a taste tester!