Six stress-buster scents

peppermint can improve your cognitive memory.

October 25, 2014

Ever wondered how you can come out of a daunting situation smelling like a rose? As stress pervades our lives, there are certain fragrances that have proven to make you focus better, sleep more and stress less.

As compiled from the Men’s Health magazine, Prevention magazine and, here are six items with therapeutic scents. Ready, set, sniff!


According to the Sense of Smell Institute, peppermint can improve your cognitive memory. The smell of the herb improves your working memory, visual-motor response speed and also does wonders for your gym routine. A 2013 study in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition found that it significantly reduced perceived physical workload during a treadmill stress test. Peppermint was also found to improve pain threshold and mental stress.


The sweet fragrance of cinnamon not only improves alertness, but also significantly reduces stress and irritation. Cinnamon compounds may also help protect against Alzheimer’s, according to a 2013 study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers found that the compounds in cinnamon, cinnamaldehyde and epicatechin, help stop build-up of tau proteins in the brain, which lead to distress and memory loss.


Citrus smells, particularly lemon, orange and grapefruit can help reduce stress and nervous tension. Research, conducted by Brazilian scientists in 2013, found that people who sniffed sweet orange essential oil before a stressful test reported lower anxiety levels. Enhance your performance and attitude before a job interview by sniffing on lemon. The mild lemon scent increases a sense of wellbeing. In fact, a study at the United Kingdom’s Northumbria University found that exposure to the smell of lemon and other citrus fruits can improve cognitive performance and mood.


A study by the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Germany found that vanilla reduces nervousness and claustrophobia, producing an instant calming effect. Vanilla is a prevailing anti-anxiety remedy. According to a study from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre, patients who breathed vanilla-scented air while undergoing MRIs reported 63 per cent less anxiety than the unscented air group.


Jasmine has been found to be both relaxing and lightly energising. A 2010 study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry found that when jasmine was administered into the air, respondents had greater sleep efficiency, deeper shuteye and less tossing and turning. Upon waking up, those who slept breathing in jasmine reported lower levels of anxiety and greater alertness in afternoon hours. All the more reasons to sniff your jasmine green tea before sipping.


In a 2012 study in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, researchers found that the fragrance of lavender caused decrease in blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature, which indicated a decrease of autonomic arousal. A 2005 Wesleyan University study found that people who sniffed lavender before bedtime increased their amount of deep sleep. Those who smelled the scent fell asleep faster and woke up happier and less stressed.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2014.

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