Aromatherapy is often associated with promoting relaxation, although it offers a number of other healthful benefits. In the United States, the use of aromatherapy is growing as an alternative therapy for improving a person’s mood, physical well-being and mental performance. According to the Health-Mind-Body website, the use of aromatherapy is one way to help increase concentration and improve memory.
Popular aromatherapy blends of essential oils used to enhance memory include three drops of rosemary and two drops of lemon; two drops of peppermint and three drops of lemon; or one drop of basil and two drops each of rosemary and cypress. These essential oils can be used in massage oil, bath oil, a diffuser or as an air freshener. When using in a diffuser, multiply individual blend ingredients by four to get a total of 20 drops.
Rosemary and peppermint each produce a strong aroma that can be helpful in enhancing concentration diminished by exhaustion. Like peppermint, lemon is an essential oil that gives off a strong aroma. The sweet, licorice-like aroma of basil may also aid in improving poor memory and concentration caused by fatigue and exhaustion. Cypress has a woody, evergreen fragrance that is not quite as strong as some of the other essential oils, but can help increase concentration just the same.
One advantage of aromatherapy is that it works quickly, mainly because a person’s sense of smell is wired directly to the brain. However, certain scents work to enhance concentration in different ways. Essential oils like peppermint and eucalyptus help to temporarily lift the brain fog often associated with extreme fatigue and lethargy. Pine is another scent that increases energy and concentration, while rosemary promotes relaxation, which can make your mind more alert.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, the brain requires a lot of oxygen to function properly. A person who doesn't get enough oxygen can become confused and have trouble focusing. Aromatherapy encourages deeper breathing, allowing a person to take in more oxygen. Michelle Schoffro Cook, author of “The Brain Wash,” points out that sesquiterpenes, chemicals found in some of the essential oils used in aromatherapy, have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. This gets more oxygen to the brain. The scents of lemon, clove, basil, bay rum, rosemary and sage increase blood flow to the brain, which can make a person more alert and increase attention span. Frankincense and sandalwood are other aromatherapy scents that increase oxygen levels in the brain.
Fatigue can make it more difficult for a person to concentrate. However, aromatherapy can be used to stimulate the brain and increase focus and productivity. The scents of cinnamon, clove, basil, ginger, peppermint, cypress, rosemary, sage and black pepper can have a stimulating effect without producing the adverse side effects, such as irritability or headache, sometimes caused by coffee and other caffeine-containing stimulants.
An easy way to diffuse a scent throughout a room is by burning an aromatherapy candle and breathing in the aroma. Aromatherapy candles specify on their labels the kind of pure essential oils they contain. Another method of diffusion is to put a few drops of an essential oil or blend into a room humidifier. The water carries the oil into the air and the room fills with the fragrance as the droplets evaporate. One of the most popular aromatherapy diffusion methods is to mix essential oils with a carrier oil to use as a massage oil to rub on the skin.