In a new study from Monash University, researchers found why certain essential oils can benefit mood.
Essential oils (EOs) are mixtures of volatile compounds extracted from plants. They are used in aromatherapy because they can be released into the air and inhaled at room temperature.
Inhaled EOs are readily taken up into the brain, which is distinct from bioactive in plant foods that are eaten.
However, despite the strong potential benefits for human health and especially for brain health, EO usage is not really optimized for type or dose.
The researchers say aromatherapy under particular conditions is reported to consistently enhance emotional health, including lowering anxiety and depression.
But achieving benefits requires understanding which types are best and what dose is needed.
They believe the interaction of essential oils with the naturally high levels of ascorbate (e.g. Vitamin C) in the brain can produce either anti-oxidant or pro-oxidant effects.
It is the anti-oxidant, but not the pro-oxidant effects, that lead to the mood benefit.
For example, lavender EO has been consistently shown to produce a mood-improving effect, which researchers now believe is related to its strong antioxidant effect in the brain.
The study has been able to identify which EOs will benefit mood improvement and alternately, which ones will produce anti-infective properties.
The researchers are working towards developing EOs for a range of applications including treating depression and anxiety, infection, inflammation and potentially even cancer.
They are also working on understanding the dose required for beneficial effects.
If you care about mental health, please read studies about this mood function is low or even absent in people with depression and findings of natural caffeine could greatly benefit your cognition and moods.
For more information about mental health, please see recent studies about micro-dosing psychedelic substances linked to better mood and focus and results showing that people with mood, anxiety disorders share same abnormalities in brain.
The study is published in Neurochemistry International. One author of the study is Professor Louise Bennett.
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