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Aromatherapy for Students

Parents typically want to do all they can to help their child succeed in school. Whether your child is just going down the street to the local elementary school, or across the country to college, there are some great ways that essential oils can help your student achieve his or her greatest potential in school.

Passing the Test

Nothing is worse during a test than seeing a question and knowing that you studied the answer, but it just won't come to you. Essential oils may be able to help with that problem. According to one source, "A university in Japan experimented with diffusing different essential oils in the office. When they diffused lemon there were 54% fewer errors, with jasmine there were 33% fewer errors, and with lavender there were 20% fewer errors. When essential oils are diffused while studying and smelled during a test via a hanky or cotton ball, test scores may increase by as much as 50%. Different essential oils should be used for different tests, but the same essential oil should be used during the test as was used while studying for that particular test. The smell of the essential oil may help bring back the memory of what was studied." Another study indicated that subjects who learned a list of 24 words while exposed to a certain aroma had an easier time re-learning the list when exposed to the same aroma than those who were exposed to a different aroma while trying to re-learn the list 1. Further studies have indicated that rosemary2 and peppermint3 aromas were found to enhance memory during clinical tests.

Calming the Stress

For many students, school means stress. Whether the stress is brought about by tests, homework, trying to fit in extracurricular activities or jobs, or from trying to create and maintain good friendships with others, essential oils can be a great aid to de-stressing after a stressful day. According to author Marlene Erickson in Healing with Aromatherapy, "EEG tests of the brain's rhythm patterns found that neroli, jasmine, and rose induced delta rhythms, with some inducing a combination of delta and theta rhythms. Delta and theta rhythms are associated with reducing mental chatter and allowing for more intuitive thought processes" (pg. 65). Marcel Lavabre also recommends chamomile, neroli, marjoram, lavender, and ylang ylang oils to help deal with stress in his Aromatherapy Workbook (pg. 49). Research studies have found evidence that lavender5,6, lemon7, and ylang ylang8 oils may help reduce stress.

Fighting the Bugs

When lots of students congregate in classrooms, lunchrooms, locker-rooms, or dormitories, there are abundant opportunities for germs to spread. Essential oils are a great natural way to help keep those germs at bay. According to the book, Modern Essentials, essential oils such as melaleuca, thyme, cinnamon, peppermint, oregano, and blends containing these oils, such as Protective Blend, have been shown in multiple studies to exhibit antibacterial, antifungal, and even antiviral properties (pgs. 106–111). Aromatherapist Valerie Ann Worwood recommends using essential oils to make an anti-infectious room spray by mixing 20 drops thyme, 5 drops cinnamon, 5 drops clove, 10 drops melaleuca, and 10 drops lemon with 2 oz. pure alcohol (such as vodka ) and then mixing it with 4 oz. of water and letting it stand for 24 hours before transferring it to a misting spray bottle to use (Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child, pg. 37). One study found that a blend of lemongrass and geranium oils diffused into the air was able to reduce airborne bacteria in an office by 89%4.

Getting the Energy

Between late-night study sessions, after-school activities, sports, jobs, and the many other activities students are involved in, sometimes it can be hard to find the energy needed to be awake and alert during the school day. According to several authors, some essential oils can be naturally stimulating. Marlene Erickson writes, "Stimulant essential oils are used for conditions of mental fatigue, poor memory, and difficulty concentrating. Stimulants are useful when you're feeling tired or sluggish and need to boost your mental activity. EEG tests used to evaluate stimulant essential oils such as black pepper, cardamom, and rosemary indicated that they induced beta brain rhythms. Beta rhythms correlate with aroused attention and alertness" (Healing with Aromatherapy, pg. 66). In addition to these oils, Modern Essentials also lists peppermint, eucalyptus, orange, ginger, grapefruit, rose, rosemary, and basil as other stimulating essential oils (pg. 236).

Essential Tip: Keep essential oils close at hand for your student by placing the oils in small 1/4 dram or 5/8 dram vials and labeling each vial with a circle or rectangle label so it can be easily identified. Place up to 8 different oils or blends in a handy AromaReady® Keychain Oil Case. Place this small case in a the pocket of a backpack or book bag along with a copy of An Introduction to Modern Essentials, and your student will have quick access to the oils and information on how to use them any time there is a need!

For more information on this topic, see any of the books listed above.


1. Smith DG, Standing L, de Man A (1992 Apr). “Verbal memory elicited by ambient odor“, Percept Mot Skills. 74(2):339-43.
2. Moss M, Cook J, Wesnes K, Duckett P (2003 Jan). “Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults“, Int J Neurosci. 113(1):15-38.
3. Moss M, Hewitt S, Moss L, Wesnes K (2008 Jan). “Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang“, Int J Neurosci. 118(1):59-77.

4. Doran AL, Morden WE, Dunn K, Edwards-Jones V (2009 Apr). “Vapour-phase activities of essential oils against antibiotic sensitive and resistant bacteria including MRSA“, Lett Appl Microbiol. 48(4):387-92.
5. Pemberton E, Turpin PG (2008 Mar-Apr). “The effect of essential oils on work-related stress in intensive care unit nurses“, Holist Nurs Pract. 22(2):97-102.
6. Motomura N, Sakurai A, Yotsuya Y (2001 Dec). “Reduction of mental stress with lavender odorant“, Percept Mot Skills. 93(3):713-8.
7. Komiya M, Takeuchi T, Harada E (2006 Sep 25). “Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-HT and DA activities in mice“, Behav Brain Res. 172(2):240-9.
8. Hongratanaworakit T, Buchbauer G (2006 Sep). “Relaxing effect of ylang ylang oil on humans after transdermal absorption“, Phytother Res. 20(9):758-63.