Essential oils are truly holistic for the mind and body. With one application, their powerful aromatic properties and physical constituents combine to immediately transform the emotions and impact multiple factors related to brain health. I have been discussing this concept within my recent series on using them for mental health.
In a 2006 article entitled, “Aromatherapy in the Management of Psychiatric Disorders: Clinical and Neuropharmacological Perspectives,” the authors summarized many earlier studies on the benefits of these ancient medicinal tools. Human trials and experimental studies of essential oils’ compounds for various psychological issues were discussed. A detailed list of many essential oils’ subjective effects and their accompanying active constituents was also provided.
… The pharmacology of the essential oils and/or their single chemical constituents, therefore, remains largely undiscovered. However, accumulating evidence that inhaled or dermally applied essential oils enter the blood stream and, in relevant molecular, cellular or animal models, exert measurable psychological effects, indicates that the effects are primarily pharmacological.
This review includes evidence from the limited number of clinical trials that have been published of ‘psychoaromatherapy’ in relation to psychiatric disorders, together with evidence from mechanistic, neuropharmacological studies of the effects of essential oils in relevant in vitro and in vivo models. It is concluded that aromatherapy provides a potentially effective treatment for a range of psychiatric disorders. In addition, taking into account the available information on safety, aromatherapy appears to be without the adverse effects of many conventional psychotropic drugs. Investment in further clinical and scientific research is clearly warranted.
You can read the full study and review the charts here. (Note that the article has some caveats as far as isolated compounds effects vs. using essential oils that have been debunked. See this article on sage oil and additional information here.)
Now that we understand how essential oils impact our psyche, I will move onto a different aspect of mental health. In this article, I will briefly review how essential oils also have the potential to preserve brain functioning and keep the brain young.
The Many Other Ways Sage and Other Essential Oils Can Benefit the Brain
As stated, essential oils have the ability to impact the body and mind in more than one way. Sage oil is no exception. According to a 2014 article in Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, sage essential oil has a wide range of uses ranging from heart, respiratory, endocrine, and digestive support. (source). There is also in vitro evidence of several sage species to be antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and acting as an antioxidant. (source, source, source, source, source)
One review looked at how sage oils’ many properties could provide potential cognitive-enhancing and memory preserving effects. The authors outlined various mechanisms of its chemical compounds and their resulting effect using in vitro and in vivo research. These components were reported to have the following pharmacodynamic actions on the brain: antidepressant and anxiolytic effects, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neurotrophic (nerve building), cholingeric (effecting memory), and amyloid-B peptide effects. (figure)
In fact, one experimental study found sage oil to protect mice from the buildup of neurotoxic amyloid in the brain, which is linked to Alzheimer’s. These animal and lab trials are supported by the previous human research that was discussed in the last article on sage oils and summarized here.
The authors noted this and a few other key points regarding sage:
- Several studies have confirmed the many Salvia species have promising, cognitive-enhancing effects in human adults.
- Further research is required to examine the longer-term cognitive-enhancing effects of Salvia species on cognition, memory and the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. (source)
This last point is impressive! We’ve already seen that sage oil can have cognitive-enhancing powers in both healthy and dementia subjects with my past articles, but now we’ve found there’s even potential for it to prevent neurodegeneration.
Previously, I also touched on how essential oils were part of a comprehensive approach to preserving brain function, along with exercise, nurturing foods, and functional neurology. Several essential oils, including lavender, rosemary, and peppermint were highlighted to also be beneficial.
Essential oils have evidence for supporting psychological and neurological disorders. This is through a combination of their biochemical properties and aromatic influence. They have many actions that span from the cellular to the spiritual level.
In the next article I will provide a summary of some main points on how essential oils may help prevent cognitive decline.
*Safety reminder: Please be extra sure to check with your doctor if you have a seizure disorder. The Epilepsy Society of the UK lists certain essential oils implicated for their antiseizure effect as well as those that have stimulating properties.
For additional safety and medical information, please be sure to visit my essential oils database. This includes a full category on how to use essential oils safely and potential drug interactions that can occur.
If you and/or your physician are interested in consulting with me to assist with supporting the integration of essential oils safely into a therapeutic protocol, essential oils consultations are available.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.