Essential Oils and Cognitive Performance
Pp. 91-118 (28)
Snezana Agatonovic-Kustrin and David W. Morton
Plant remedies and essential oils have been used throughout history for
medicinal purposes in treating physiological and psychological health conditions.
However, there is limited clinical evidence to show they are effective. However, a few
clinical studies show they are a safe and effective treatment for mental illness, as an aid
in cognitive function, agitation, memory enhancement and mood, but further research
is needed. Aromatherapy, a process using essential oils to heal, may be viewed as
archaic by society, but modern researchers have found that it can be quintessential in
the fight against various types of dementias. Aromatherapy with plant essential oils,
mostly from the Mint family, can significantly reduce the agitated behaviors seen in
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and improve cognitive function. Although there is
an olfactory dysfunction in people with AD, the loss of smell does not affect the
effectiveness of the essential oils. Therefore, their active components must be able to
be absorbed via skin or respiration, cross the blood brain barrier, and produce systemic
effects. The major active components of these essential oils, terpenes like 1,8-cineole
have been correlated with positive cognitive performance. However, 1,8-cineole, is
found in other plants, like eucalyptus, whose essential oils do not have memory
enhancing effects. Thus, it’s possible that detected blood levels for 1,8-cineole simply
work as a marker for relative levels of other active components that are present in much
smaller quantities in therapeutic essential oils.
Alzheimer’s disease, Aromatherapy, Cognitive function, Dementia,
Essential oils, Lavender oil, Rosemary oil, Terpenes.
School of Pharmacy, Monash University Malaysia, Jalan Lagoon Selatan, Bandar Sunway, 47500, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia.