A couple of studies reported at the recent Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society are intriguing.
In the first study, 180 healthy adults completed questionnaires relating to their mood before being given either a drink of peppermint tea, chamomile tea or hot water. Twenty minutes later, their memory and cognition were tested, followed by another mood questionnaire.
Peppermint tea significantly improved long term memory, working memory and alertness compared to both chamomile and hot water, while chamomile tea (consistent with its reputed calming/sedative effect) significantly slowed memory and attention speed compared to both peppermint and hot water.
In the second study, 150 older adults (65+) were tested on their prospective memory while in one of three rooms: a room that was scented either with rosemary or lavender, or an unscented room.
The scented rooms had four drops of either lavender or peppermint essential oils placed on an aroma stream fan diffuser, switched on five minutes before the participants entered the room. Prospective memory was tested by needing to remember to pass on a message at a given time during the procedure, and having to switch tasks when a specific event occurred.
The room scented with rosemary significantly enhanced prospective memory compared to the room with no aroma. It also significantly increased alertness, while lavender significantly increased calmness and contentedness.
As I said, these are conference papers, and I know no more than revealed in the press release. However, these strategies are easy and harmless enough that you might want to try them for yourself.
Bussey, L. 2016. I really must post that letter! Aromas of essential oils impact on prospective memory in an older cohort. Presented at the British Psychological Society's 2016 Annual Conference in Nottingham.
Moss, M. 2016. Contrasting Effects of Peppermint and Chamomile Tea on Cognition and Mood. Presented at the British Psychological Society's 2016 Annual Conference in Nottingham.