In “Chapter Nine: Memory Improvement – Aromatherapy and the Brain,” we dive into an aromatic journey that not only tantalizes the senses but also promises to enhance our cognitive prowess. As we begin our journey, the subtle and potent scents that envelop us exert a remarkable influence on our memory and cognitive functions. In this chapter, we’ll delve into the intriguing connection between aromatherapy and the brain. This olfactory exploration paves the way for the exciting revelations that lie ahead in ‘chapter ten,’ where we will further immerse ourselves in the art of memory enhancement.
Remember what we said about the brain being a huge mystery. Scientists are constantly exploring its development, function, and its role in shaping lives. We find it fascinating, yet we still wonder, why some individuals experience schizophrenia, amnesia, or severe depression. Different mental states and emotions activate specific brain regions. New theories challenge old findings. The brain is really a colossal arena of study. Curiosity about it will not cease.
And now, naturopaths and herbalists and homeopaths – in fact the entire gang of complementary and alternative practitioners are touting the benefits of essentials oils for the brain. Consider specific herbs and oils; they have the capacity to trigger memory and potentially delay the onset of aging diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Let’s take sage, for instance. People assert it enhances memory. This effect could be linked to an enzyme known as “acetylcholinesterase (AChE).” Therefore, it’s not surprising that people have made claims about its memory-enhancing properties. An enzyme called “acetylcholinesterase (AChE)” might explain this. People claim it improves memory. An enzyme called “acetylcholinesterase (AChE)” might explain this. Researchers at the Medical Plant Research Center in British universities of Newcastle and Northumbria have shown that sage inhibits AChE. The center found that in word recall tests, those with sage oil capsules performed better than those with placebos.
A professor from the Center also said that using lemon balm on patients with Alzheimer’s tended to reduce their nervousness and agitation. As early as 1652, the benefits of sage for memory and alertness of the senses were already known.
The limbic area of the brain houses the survival instincts of humans. The limbic system affects how we sleep, feel hunger pangs, sexually behave and react to smell. Jenny Thompson’s view is that this part of the brain
was sort of forgotten when modern society became more involved with the higher senses – speech development, intellect and creativity. The result? It diminished in importance. She says, however, that essential oils have the ability to re-invigorate this part of the brain. Not only can they perform this function, but can also help balance the brain’s two hemispheres.
A good balance in the hemispheres gives off feelings of calm and well being. As we inhale the oils, the hemispheres move to closer symmetry, as the oils wake up our senses and enable us to relax more. This is what aromatherapy is concerned with the union of brain, mind and body. During an aromatherapy massage, it sends relaxing messages to the hypothalamus, which, in turn, informs the body that all is well.
Proof that aromatherapy boosts memory is also offered by Dr. Alan Baddeley, although he does not refer to aromatherapy directly but to the role of smell. Researchers conducted tests to substantiate the claim that smells are indelible. Furthermore, in Proust’s A Remembrance of Things Past, he illustrated how he linked the smell of a Madeleine cake to memories of his childhood and neighborhood. As we embark on an exploration of the world of scents and memory enhancement, let’s delve into how aromatherapy influences the brain. This lays the foundation for what lies ahead in the next chapter. In one scientific experiment, individuals in a study smelled a cotton swab soaked in one substance. After a thirty-second interval, they received a second swab and were asked if it matched the first smell. The test results demonstrated that they maintained the power of recall. It showed no evidence of forgetting.