Essential oils to promote focus
Many of us have been working from home since mid-March, and focus is wearing thin. For our students, a new semester is about to start, and for many of us who have children, we are about to experience homeschooling for the first time.
This week is Stress Management Week, which we created in order to support our students so that they can have the best experience possible in their education this semester - even during a pandemic. It includes a Stress Management Webinar Series where we talk about mindfulness, breathing, yoga, mindset, and more. If you're interested, you can register for the series here.
When you think of essential oils that help support calm, the first thing that comes to mind is probably lavender. Today, I want to highlight some essential oils that promote focus instead! Better focus can promote calm because when you’re focused, you have less time to worry and let your thoughts wander. Whether you’re a student, you’re working from home, or your kids are starting up homeschooling, we could all use a little focus at this time of year.
Rosemary is a well-known herb that adds flavor to meals, but did you know that it also provides support for memory and a clear mind? Rosemary is referenced in Shakespeare’s Hamlet where Ophelia says, “Rosemary is for remembrance.” Rosemary has been used for centuries for minor memory problems. 
In a small-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study involving 28 older adults given a daily dose of 750mg of dried rosemary leaf powder, an increase in the speed of memory was observed. 
Another larger-scale, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study demonstrated that exposure to rosemary essential oil (via inhalation) enhanced the overall quality of memory. 
The study, done at the University of Northumbria in Great Britain, focused on the aromas of lavender Lavandula angustifolia (Mill.) and rosemary R. officinalis essential oils. This study was done on 144 people randomly assigned to three groups. One group used rosemary essential oil, one group used lavender essential oil and the third group, a control group, had no odor. The participants were given tests of memory. The lavender group showed a significant decrement in their memory. The results of this study showed that rosemary enhanced the quality of memory but slowed down the speed of memory. 
Another study tested the constituent 1,8 cineole. The researchers found that the concentration of this constituent improved performance in speed and accuracy.  The results of the two studies above are somewhat conflicting. The one study showed the improvement of memory but slowness in the speed of memory. The other study showed an improvement in speed of memory. This means that rosemary R. officinalis can help enhance memory, but the jury is still out on the speed of the memory.
Rosemary R. officinalis essential oil is very easy to use. Put a few drops of essential oil in a diffuser and let the aroma disperse throughout the room to create a soothing yet stimulating ambience.
Peppermint Mentha xpiperita essential oil is very versatile! It can have a relaxing, cooling effect in aromatherapy blends, or an uplifting effect, depending on what your mind and body needs.
Whether you need to relax after a long day of work in your home office or be uplifted, peppermint M. ×piperita is great. It’s a great study aid for students of all levels or for anyone who works long hours, especially in front of the computer!
Recipe: Clear Mind Roll On
- Peppermint M. ×piperita oil: 5 drops
- Lavender Lavendula officinalis oil: 5 drops
- Eucalyptus Eucalyptus globulus oil: 5 drops
- Lemon Citrus limonum oil: 5 drops
- Carrier oil or blend of oils of your choice: 1 Tablespoon
(4 % dilution ratio)
Directions: Blend the essential oils and carrier oil in a glass beaker or another glass container that is easy to pour from. Fill a 1 or 10ml roll-on bottle and roll on to any tight areas on your shoulders, neck, and temples. Do not get it near your eyes. If there is any blend left over, store it in a glass bottle or jar with a lid.
One essential oil that stands out as a mood-booster is bergamot Citrus aurantium (L.) var. bergamia. Many citruses are known for their uplifting effects, but bergamot is particularly powerful.
There are multiple historical and anecdotal reports of the calming and cheering effects of bergamot essential oil, but there are also scientific studies supporting these claims.
For example, a 2019 study found that bergamot essential oil demonstrated extensive evidence of analgesic properties without side effects of sedation, typical of many anti-anxiety medications. 
An older 2014 study with 58 hospice patients presented some interesting conclusions. The hospice patients were given hand massages once a day for one week with an essential oil blend in 1.5% dilution with sweet almond oil. The essential oil blend consisted of these essential oils in equal ratios:
- Bergamot C. aurantium var. bergamia
- Frankincense Boswellia carterii (Birdw.)
- Lavender Lavandula angustifolia (Mill.)
Here’s the good news: All the patients who received the aromatherapy hand massage reported less pain and depression.  This study shows that aromatherapy massage with this specific essential oil blend is more effective for pain and depression management than massage alone.
Another study conducted in Taiwan in 2011 provided more compelling evidence. The authors selected elementary school teachers, who are known to work under significant stress. An inhalation of bergamot C. aurantium var. bergamia essential oil just once a week for 10-minutes resulted in a substantial reduction in blood pressure and heart rate and drove autonomic nervous activity toward a balanced state. Also, participants with moderate and high degrees of anxiety benefited more than the light anxiety group. 
If you are excited to try out any of these uplifting essential oils, head over to the Apothecary Shoppe where we specialize in certified organic and pesticide-free oils and wellness supplies.
Disclosure of Material Connection: This blog may contain affiliate links. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.
This article included updated information from these 3 blogs:
 University of Maryland Medical Center. (2014, July 6). Rosemary. Retrieved from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/rosemary
 Pengelly, A., Snow, J., Mills, S., Scholey, A., Wesnes, K., & Butler, L. (2012). Short-Term Study on the Effects of Rosemary on Cognitive Function in an Elderly Population. Journal of Medicinal Food, 15(1):10-17. Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/jmf.2011.0005
 Moss, M., Cook, J., Wesnes, K., & Duckett, P. (2003). Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognitive function and mood in healthy adults. Int J Neurosci., 113(1), 15-38. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12690999
 Moss, M., Cook, J., Wesnes, K., & Duckett, P. (2003). Aromas of Rosemary and Lavender Essential Oils Differentially Affect Cognition and Mood in Healthy Adults. Int J Neurosci., 113(1):15-38. doi:10.1080/00207450390161903
 Scuteri D, Rombolà L, Morrone LA, et al. Neuropharmacology of the Neuropsychiatric Symptoms of Dementia and Role of Pain: Essential Oil of Bergamot as a Novel Therapeutic Approach. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(13):3327. Published 2019 Jul 6. doi:10.3390/ijms20133327
 Chang, S.Y. (2008). Effects of aroma hand massage on pain, state anxiety and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi., 38(4):493-502
 Chang, K. & Shen, C. (2011). Aromatherapy Benefits Autonomic Nervous System Regulation for Elementary School Faculty in Taiwan. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved from: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2011/946537/
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