In spring I just love the smell of flowers and the blooming trees. How many of you can relate a certain smell evoking a positive memory? I remember as a child going to visit my grandparents and opening the door to the smell of apple pie.  I looked so forward to that with the combination of the apples and cinnamon.  So inviting. 

Scents trigger memories that are vivid and real.  This is because they directly engage with the brains limbic system, especially the amygdala, through nerve connections from the olfactory bulb. The amygdala controls emotional responses and mood, it also plays a key role in memory recall.  Unlike sound and vision, odors directly communicate with the amygdala while others get their through other circuits. That is why scents often trigger emotional memories. 

If our sense of smell starts to diminish, not only can it affect our memories but it can lead to mood disorders such as depression.  A diminished sense of smell can have an impact on our food choices and eating habits. Smelling food prior to a meal is one of the key pieces to effective digestion giving our body and brain the nutrients they need. 

So if smell is a key piece in memories how else can we use scents to enhance our brain function. 

  • Peppermint essential oil has a stimulating effect on the brain to improve focus 
  • Rosemary can increase focus and long term memory 
  • Sage enhances overall cognitive function 
  • Citrus helps to relax and calm an anxious mind including lemon, orange or grapefruit 
  • Lavender is both calming and uplifting to the mind
  • Basil is effective in periods of agitation or nervousness 

Ongoing research continues in the area of scent cues in individuals with cognitive impairment and depressive disorders. A key takeaway is to enhance your sense of smell by breathing through your nose using a few of the essential oils listed above.  The most effective way to use these oils and enjoy the brain boosting effects is to use a diffuser and to ensure they are quality essential oils.

Simple Sustainable Health is Yours!

Cherri Schleicher FNPc APNP FMCHC
C&S Holistic Family Health and Wellness

Morning Tips to Wake Your Brain

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