The beautiful summer is still in full swing for most of us, but for college students, it’s time to start thinking about back to school! During my time at naturopathic medicine school, I found great benefit in using various essential oils for wellness and focus for studying. In this blog, I review a few ways essential oils can help with supporting the brain and nerves for your favorite avid learner. I also highlight the power of peppermint for enhancing physical performance and athletic performance, in the event you are or know a sport-participating enthusiast.
Nervous System Support
Did you know the sense of smell can affect your nervous system, either enhancing it or soothing it? In a study with 43 healthy females, various essential oils were tested for their effect on nervous system tone. The authors evaluated for differences between various essential oils that were inhaled on a cotton ball verses sniffing just cotton. To accomplish this, they measured blood pressure and output of blood catecholamines, your body’s nervous system chemicals.
According to the study, the following results were found:
- Black pepper, fennel, and grapefruit oil caused a 1.5- to 2.5-fold increase in blood pressure
indicating an elevation in sympathetic nervous system activity.
- Rose and patchouli oil decreased sympathetic nervous system activity by 40%.
- Pepper oil caused a 1.7-fold increase in adrenaline measurements in plasma.
- Rose oil was shown to drop adrenaline levels by 30 percent.
Another great use for essential oils is enhancing focus. A press release from Wheeling State University reported on the relationship between “essential oils and human behavior.” In the article, the authors discuss the use of peppermint. The article reports:
“The Sense of Smell Institute, a leading global resource relating to the sense of smell and its importance, commissioned Raudenbush’s review to determine whether anecdotal references to the beneficial effects of peppermint have been substantiated by scientific research.”
Besides assisting with cognitive focus, Dr. Raudenbush found several studies confirming that this oil could assist with improving wellness and quality of life, supporting mental and athletic performance, and assisting digestive health.
Peppermint Power and Athletics
Another recent study was done to determine peppermint’s effect on exercise and included 30 healthy male university students who were randomly divided into an experimental group of oral administration of peppermint oil (50 ul) and a control group. Maximum isometric grip force, vertical and long jumps, spirometric parameters, visual and audio reaction times, breath rate, and other variables were all measured. The authors’ results supported significant improvement in all of these variables tested following peppermint essential oil consumption.
Therefore, essential oils may be a good back-to-school tool for your favorite college student for brain, nervous system, and physical health support! Just keep in mind that you should use quality oils that don’t contain chemicals. You also want to use very low doses because they are so concentrated. In other words, one drop will do in many circumstances.
You can read more about essential oils and their use regarding supporting mood and relaxation, from the references below.
Hot Topic in Health
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Effects of Fragrance Inhalation on Sympathetic Activity in Normal Adults. Jpn. J. Pharmacol. 2002; 90: 247 – 253.
Debiec, J, Sullivan, RM. Intergenerational transmission of emotional trauma through amygdala-dependent mother-to-infant transfer of specific fear. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jul 28. pii: 201316740. [Epub ahead of print] http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/07/23/1316740111.long
Zabludovsky,K. Mother’s Fears Are Passed to Children Through Smell, Study Suggests. Newsweek. July 28, 2014.
Mercola, J. Mother’s Fears Are Passed to Children Through Smell, Study Suggests. Mercola.com. August
14, 2014. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/08/14/hereditary-trauma.aspx
The Anxiolytic Effect of Aromatherapy on Patients Awaiting Ambulatory Surgery: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 927419. Published online Dec 17, 2013. doi: 10.1155/2013/927419. (Bergamot)
A systematic review on the anxiolytic effects of aromatherapy in people with anxiety symptoms. J Altern Complement Med. 2011 Feb;17(2):101-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0277. Epub 2011 Feb 10.
Citrus aurantium L. essential oil exhibits anxiolytic-like activity mediated by 5-HT(1A)-receptors and reduces cholesterol after repeated oral treatment. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2013 Feb 23;13:42. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-13-42. (Bitter Orange)
Meamarbashi A. Instant effects of peppermint essential oil on the physiological parameters and exercise performance. Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine. 2014;4(1):72-78.
Wheeler State University: http://www.wju.edu/about/adm_news_story.asp iNewsID=1106&strBack=%2Fabout%2Fadm_news_archive.asp