Extremely wild study coming out about olfactory simulation increasing coginitive ability in older adults:
When a fragrance wafted through the bedrooms of older adults for two hours every night for six months, memories skyrocketed. Participants in this study by University of California, Irvine neuroscientists reaped a 226% increase in cognitive capacity compared to the control group. The researchers say the finding transforms the long-known tie between smell and memory into an easy, non-invasive technique for strengthening memory and potentially deterring dementia.
That’s really interesting. I might try my essential oil diffuser in my bedroom at night. I run it often during the daytime but it honestly never occurred to me to use it at night. I do make a skin balm with essential oils that I put on my hands before falling asleep and really enjoy the scent. I don’t really think the essential oils have any special benefits per se but I do enjoy the aroma.
I wouldn’t be surprised if smell and sounds/music tap into ancient programs that exercise the brain unconsciously. I’m currently looking into music as a lever to activate sympathetic (to lower perceived effort of exercising vigorously) vs parasympathetic (to quickly transition into recovery mode after exercise or other stress) modes. It’s really amazing stuff.
"Individuals assigned to the olfactory enrichment group were provided with an odorant diffuser (Diffuser World) and 7 essential oil odorants (rose, orange, eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, and lavender; from The Essential Oil Company, Portland, OR) in identical glass vials that each fit into the diffuser. They were asked to turn on the diffuser when they went to bed, and the odorant was released into the air during the night for 2 h when they first went to sleep. They rotated through the different odorants each night
They further showed that novelty was the critical element in this kind of stimulation, as exposure to odorant mixtures did not produce these changes, while exposure to multiple odorants individually did. Rusznák et al. (2018) also showed that exposure to various essential oils alone for 30 min/day over 3 months induced neurogenesis in both the olfactory bulb and the hippocampus.
This part was some background about preexisting animal studies, but it seems like a key point that rotating through scents was essential to brain growth. The arm of the study that had the same scent every night didn’t see an effect.
An astounding 226% improvement.
“We found that, compared to controls, enriched participants improved in their performance on word list recall, a key test of verbal learning and memory”
Even though the number of participants was small, the improvement was not.
A high difference between the control group and the olfactory enrichment group.
Most studies of anything, including rapamycin, show much more modest improvements.
So, what do you think I did?
Of course, I immediately order a diffuser and an assortment of essential oils from Amazon.
My sleep score has increased in the last week since I’ve been using my essential oil diffuser at night. I’m pretty convinced there’s something to this but happy with the results even if it’s a coincidence.
I am rotating the oils as was done in the test. I don’t know if my memory or sleep is better, but I really enjoy the cheap diffuser by my bedside at night. The oils seem to reduce the time to sleep, but I have been enjoying good sleep since I have been on rapamycin so I don’t know if it’s making a difference in sleep quality. Unless someone comes along and proves it unhealthy, I will keep using the diffuser with essential oils.
my sense of humor would just love it so much if rotating scents turns out to be exponentially more effective at improving cognition than anything discovered in decades and billions spent on Alzheimer’s research