Essential Oils, memory recall and mood
Specific aromas can trigger memory recall of past events or information. It’s based on the notions of early French novelist Marcel Proust. The Proust Phenomenon linking aromas to memory was further explored by neuroscientists. Prominent researcher in the field from America is Dr Rachel Herz and since 1990, the neuroscientist has published over 70 articles and books on the subject of smell including the topic of emotion association to aromas and their link to retrieval of memory information. (Herz, 1998, 2005: Sugiyama et al, 2015).

Further to the link between aromas and memory recall, Herz (2009) published a review of 18 studies that focused on aromatherapy and human behaviour and found credible evidence that smell can affect mood, behaviours and physiology. The studies included specifically how aromatherapy is used today in conjunction with massage and used to reduce the signs and symptoms of anxiety.

Aromatherapy can be defined as essential oils extracted from plants for use in treating physiological and psychological health and to promote overall wellness (Herz, 2009). It is based on inhaling the essential oil rather than ingestion. However, today’s wellness advocates such as DoTERRA promote essential oils for topical, ingestion and inhalation dependent on the type of oil and blend.

Aromachology takes aromatherapy a step further through scientific testing that meet 5 empirical criteria and therefore becoming scientifically credible. This criteria means that research projects must be professionally vetted before being published in reputable journals.

From the literature, there are two types of hypotheses proposed 1) pharmacological and 2) psychological (Herz, 2009). The pharmacological view is that the scents affect mood, physiological and behaviour by interacting with the nervous system and endocrine system. The psychological view is that responses to scents are learned through association of emotional experiences (Herz, 2009). The analysis of these two theoretical mechanisms were used to explain the data in the review of 18 studies that met the criteria for aromachology. Although further research is needed with more scents, the review found that essential oil aromas positively affected mood, physiology and behaviour (Herz, 2009).

Essential oils can support learning by improving mood, reducing anxiety and supporting memory recall. Supporting learning is not the only benefit from using essential oils. Using essential oils in everyday life help to reduce the toxic load in the environment can enhance wellness for you and your loved ones .


Sugiyama, Haruko., Oshida, Akika., Paula Theunema., Susan Littel., Atsushi, Katayama., Kashiwagi, Mitsuyoshi., Hikichi, Satoshi., Herz, Rachel. (2015), ‘Proustian Products are Preferred: the relationship between odor- evoked memory and product evaluation’, Chemosensory Perception

Herz, Rachel S, (1998), ‘Are Odors the best cues to memory? A cross-model comparison of associative memory stimuli’, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 855, 670-674
Herz, Rachel S, (1995), Odor associative learning and emotion: Effects on perception and behaviour, Chemical Senses, 30, 250-251
Herz, Rachel S.(2009)’Aromatherapy Facts and Fictions: A Scientific Analysis of Olfactory Effects on Mood, Physiology and Behavior’,International Journal of Neuroscience,119:2,263 — 290 

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