Thursday, January 9, 2014

Studies on Smell and the Brain

Studies on Aromatherapy and the Brain

Researchers1.  In a large clinical study, Alan Hirsch, MD, tested the fragrances of peppermint, to trigger significant loss in weight in a large group of patients who had previously been unsuccessful in weight-management programs. During the course of the six-month study involving over 3,000 people, the average loss exceeded 30 pounds. According to Dr. Hirsch, some patients actually had to be dropped from the study to avoid becoming underweight.
In 1989, Dr. Joseph Ledoux , at New York Medical University, discovered that the amygdala plays a major role in storing and releasing emotional trauma. From the studies of Dr. Hirsch and Dr. Ledoux we can conclude that aromas may exert a profound effect in triggering a response.
Hirsch, AR, Inhalation of Odorants for Weight Reduction, Int J Obes, 1994, page 306LeDoux, JE, Rationalizing Thoughtless Emotions, Insight, Sept. 1989Essential oils can provide many benefits to the human body without side effects, whether it is through diffusing or simply inhaling the aroma straight from the bottle. Proper stimulation of the olfactory nerves may offer a powerful and entirely new form of therapy that could be used as an adjunct against many forms of illness. Therapeutic essential oils, through inhalation, may occupy a key position in this relatively unexplored frontier in medicine.
2.  In studies conducted at Vienna and Berlin Universities, researchers found that sesquiterpenes, a natural compound found in essential oils of Vetiver, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Sandalwood and Frankincense, can increase levels of oxygen in the brain by up to 28 percent (Nasel, 1992). Such an increase in brain oxygen may lead to a heightened level of activity in the hypothalamus and limbic systems of the brain, which can have dramatic effects on not only emotions but on learning, attitude, and many physical processes of the body such as: immune function, hormone balance, and energy levels. High levels of sesquiterpenes also occur in Melissa, Myrrh, Cedarwood, and Clove essential oils.
3.  Clinical Aromatherapy by Jane Buckel, R.N.
Psychology: Prolonged medication can be unacceptable because harmful side effects such as potential drug interactions and potentially dangerous drug overdose issues may occur.
Clinical AromatherapyEssential oils support because “…inhaled volatile oils diffuse into the olfactory nerve directly to the cerebrum.” Antidepressants work by making the neurotransmitter serotonin linger in the gaps between brain cells, while essential oils appear to work with the body to accelerate the serotonin system–amplifying its activity similar to turning up the volume on a radio.
Many patients in the U.S. are turning to complementary alternatives.

Essential Oils for psychological support :

· Peppermint
· Lemon
· Lavender
· Bergamot
· Basil
· Lemongrass
· Sandalwood
· Frankincense
· Rose
· Jasmine
· Rosemary
4.  “Coming to our Senses: Incorporating Brain Research Findings into Classroom Instructions.” Educational Digest November 2009

 Essential oils to boost learning:

adults learning
      · Memory and cognitive functioning is reinforced by using aroma
      · Peppermint and lemon energized
      · One study showed that groups were able to solve puzzles 30% faster than control group
      · Chamomile and pine were good for performance jitters before exams
      · Pine has been used in London’s Heathrow Airport to ease travelers going through customs.
      · College students exposed to lemon performed word construction and decoding tasks better than unexposed group.
      · Another study showed floral aromas were associated with doubling the speed of learning.
    5.  Lavender and Rosemary aromatherapy decreased the levels of salivary cortisol indicating stress-reduction. (Atsumi and Tonosaki 89)
    6. Inhalation of lavender, ylang ylang, and bergamot essential oils reduced psychological stress response as indicated by reduced serum cortisol levels. (Hwang 1123)
    7.  Aromatherapy and massage have been successfully used in reducing antenatal anxiety. (Bastard and Tiran 48)
    8.  Frankincense: TRPV3 receptor of the brain responsive to Frankincense and this receptor is implicated in mood regulation. Frankincense does not show any adverse side effects.
    9.  Rosemary and lavender essential oils affect cognition and mood in 144 healthy adults. These findings indicate that the olfactory properties of these essential oils can produce objective effects on cognitive performance, as well as subjective effects on mood. Moss M, Cook J, Wesnes K, Duckett P. Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Division of Psychology, Northumberland Building, University of Northumbria, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST, UK.

    Suggested Blends:

      · Forgiveness: lavender, ylang ylang, lemon, bergamot, etc.
      · En-R-Gee: Rosemary, nutmeg, balsam fir, juniper, etc.
      · Transformation: Frankincense, rosemary, peppermint, balsam fir, sandalwood, clary sage, lemon.

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