An Oily Approach: Improving Memory with Essential Oils

We’ve all had those moments often referred to as “senior moments”.  You can’t remember the name of a once familiar face, you can’t remember where you put the car keys, you can’t remember if you closed the door on your way out of the house.


Our memory is made up of many different pieces which are stored in various parts of our brain. For example, when you close the door on your way out of the house, your brain registers the feeling of pushing on the door, the sound the door makes as it closes, the image of exactly where you were and what your next step was.  When you are paying attention, even if only subliminally, these pieces of awareness help you remember that you closed the door.  But when you are distracted, you may not be able to retrieve that memory.  It is important to recognize the difference between absentmindedness and serious memory loss.  Struggling to remember a word or name that is at the tip of your tongue or misplacing something is perfectly normal.

Nonetheless, as we age we are particularly sensitive to when we simply blank out.  These senior moments can be scary, but the majority of the time they are just a result of the brain’s normal aging process.  Unless these occasional memory lapses are interfering with your ability to function day to day, you can assume that this is nothing more than an annoyance.  In fact, if you are aware of these little slips, that is actually a very good sign because this usually indicates that you are experiencing typical memory lapses that we all have.

So if it’s nothing serious, then what makes us forgetful and is there anything we can do about it?  We live in a world of multitasking, which actually makes it more difficult to retain things because our attention is so divided.  In addition, stress and fatigue reduce our ability to concentrate and pay attention to details. There are a number of things you can do to reduce the incidence of these forgetful moments:

  • Try to do one thing at a time
  • Be present, noticing the feel, taste or smell of what you are experiencing
  • Get plenty of sleep, at least 7 hours a night
  • Reduce mental clutter by using a calendar or making notes on your phone
  • Implement stress management tools – things like deep breathing, exercise, journaling and meditation

There are also a number of memory enhancing essential oils to help boost your focus and recall.  Inhaling or diffusing the following essential oils can have a profound effect on your memory.

  • Rosemary: This essential oil can help you remember things that are happening in your future, like remembering your schedule or important dates. In fact, in a series of tests at a University in England, rosemary essential oil increased the chances of remembering future to do items by 60-75 percent compared with people who had not been exposed to the oil.
  • Basil: Sweet and refreshing, this scent can help with fatigue-induced distraction; improving alertness and attentiveness. This is a great oil to diffuse when trying to complete a big project or study for a test.
  • Peppermint: A natural pick me up that can stimulate your memory, energize your mind and focus your senses.
  • Lemon: Research scientists in Japan conducted a study about the effect of lemon essential oil on the ability to focus.  The research results showed that typical mistakes of office workers were reduced by 54 percent when lemon oil was diffused in the office space.
  • Lavender: Although traditionally used as a calming agent, this essential oil mitigates anxiety relating to work and school. This allows you to better concentrate and have better recall.
  • Vetiver: Like lavender, vetiver’s relaxing and calming properties helps combat diminished focus, absentmindedness and fidgetiness. Studies have shown that this essential oil not only enhances memory, but is also helpful in cases of ADHD and ADD.


As you diffuse or inhale essential oils, their ever so small volatile molecules are absorbed into the bloodstream through the nose.  These compounds also stimulate the olfactory nerve in the nose directly, which has an effect on brain functioning. In addition to the essential oil singles, Young Living also makes a number of blends to support your brain like, Brainpower, En-R-Gee and Clarity.

If you are looking to banish your brain fog naturally, try adding essential oils to your daily regiment.  Let their scent begin to trigger the changes in the brain that can lead to better brain power and better memory!


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