Lavender and Cloves: Effects on Memory

Lavender and cloves are aromatherapy oils that have an application in the role of mood and memory. The odorants from the oil are able to affect physiological systems because the oils contain volatile compounds that can be absorbed through the nasal cavity. Experimental data shows that both lavender and cloves essential aromatherapy oil is effective at affecting a number of specific and well defined aspects of mood and memory. For example, in one study, lavender oil was shown to negatively affect arithmetic ability, and cloves showed similar trends for this effect. This is surprising as memory of mathematical problems may perhaps not expect to be affected by an odorant. One suggestion is that the odorants were able to increase the calm within the brain and decrease excitatory circuits that may therefore decrease cognitive performance in certain parameters. However, in the same study, lavender was shown to significantly improve reaction times, which is also perhaps a somewhat surprising effect.  

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Ludvigson, H. W. and Rottman, T. R. 1989. Effects of ambient odors of lavender and cloves on cognition, memory, affect and mood. Chemical senses. 14(4): 525-536

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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