Essential Oil Recipe Journal
The 3 Best Essential Oils for Memory. Learn how rosemary, basil and peppermint essential oil help with memory! Click to learn how to use each of these oils for memory!

The Best Essential Oils for Memory

I am so excited to share this wonderful guest post from Rachel at The Essential Girl! In this post Rachel will share research for the best essential oils for memory and she will also share practical ways to use each essential oil!

Without further ado, let’s turn it over to Rachel!

The 3 Best Essential Oils for Memory. Learn how rosemary, basil and peppermint essential oil help with memory! Click to learn how to use each of these oils for memory!

The Best Essential Oils for Memory

Memory is something I’ve always struggled with. I repeat myself to people, I forget what I needed from the store, and I even forget what I like and dislike sometimes. (And I’m only 23!) Being obsessed with essential oils, I of course wondered if they could help with my memory. And it turns out they can! After sifting through some research, these are the top 3 essential oils for memory.

Rosemary Essential Oil 

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the character Ophelia declares: ‘There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.’ 

This famous line alludes to the power people believed rosemary had in aiding memory recall. Grecian scholars would wear rosemary on their heads to improve their recall while taking exams (someone get me one of these next time I take an exam!). It also used to be common practice to include rosemary in wedding ceremonies to help the couple remember their vows or to help guests remember the momentous occasion. (Read more history here)

Research has shown that rosemary likely does have a significant, positive effect on proscriptive memory, which is the ability to remember things happening in the future, and also improves reaction time. [1] They found that a compound present in rosemary, 1,8-Cineole, is absorbed into the bloodstream when rosemary oil is inhaled, and they propose that due to its molecular structure it is able to cross the blood-brain barrier and have an effect on neuronal function. 

How to use it to your advantage:

  • Diffuse a few drops of rosemary essential oil while studying, and again before you take the exam. This also plays on the commonly perpetuated idea that scents are associated with memory recall, i.e. if you smell an orange while you’re studying, then smelling the orange during the test will help you recall that information.
  • Try adding rosemary to your cooking.
  • Try rosemary-based teas.
  • For a quick mental boost, mix equal parts rosemary essential oil with a carrier oil and dab on your wrists or temples. 

Caution: Research has found that too much rosemary can actually decrease cognitive function, so be sure not to go overboard, especially if you choose a rosemary supplement. Always consult a doctor when taking any supplements.

Related: How to Diffuse Essential Oils on a Budget

Basil Essential Oil

Basil is touted as a stimulant, increasing alertness and thus improving memory by dissipating fatigue-induced distraction

While studies on this particular subject are rare (and personal stories abound), I was able to find a Japanese study that supported these claims. [2] Participants were found to show increased skin temperature and increased beta waves in an EEG measurement (a method that measures electrical activity in the brain), which correlate to alertness. 

How to use it to your advantage:

  • Diffuse a few drops of basil essential oil when studying late at night or when otherwise fatigued.
  • Try a cup of basil tea instead of coffee for that late-night or early-morning fatigue buster.
  • Chew on a basil leaf to increase alertness and banish any headaches due to eyestrain. 

Cautions: Basil is a ‘hot’ oil, and should never be applied directly on the skin, as it can cause rashes and burning.

Related: How to Diffuse Essential Oils on a Budget


Peppermint Essential Oil 

Peppermint is one of my favorite focus-boosting oils! I’ve experienced the effects of it time and again when I’m up late working and need to re-focus on the task at hand. I often add it to my dark chocolate recipe so I can satisfy my sweet tooth at the same time.

Peppermint essential oil has been found to increase the overall quality of memory, but most significantly the accuracy of memory. [3]  Peppermint oil is also a good oil to combat daytime fatigue [4]  and improve alertness. [5]  

How to use it to your advantage:

  • Dilute peppermint essential oil 50-50 with a carrier oil and rub on wrists and temples.
  • Diffuse a few drops of peppermint oil while working to increase daytime alertness.
  • Sip on peppermint tea in the mornings to banish any early-morning fatigue.
  • Have a piece of peppermint dark chocolate!

Cautions: Peppermint oil should not be used undiluted (except in diffusers), and is toxic to cats. 

Related: Carrier Oils – What They Are and How to Use Them

Have you used any of these essential oils for memory? What was your experience?

Worried you’ll forget these great tips? Just click below for a quick-reference printable version! (Plus you’ll get access to my entire library of printables and guides!)


Guest Bio:

Rachel is a blogger and Bioengineering masters student who lives in Clemson, SC (go tigers!). After studying conventional pharmaceuticals and how they target specific ailments, she applied that knowledge to figuring out how essential oils can work to treat the same ailments, and ended up creating the blog The Essential Girl. When she’s not blogging or sciencing the shit out of something in the lab, she likes to drink tea, nom on popcorn, and binge Netflix with her Astrophysicist boyfriend.

Essential Oils for Memory References:

[1] Moss M, Oliver L. Plasma 1,8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. 2012;2(3):103-113

[2] Tomoko SATOH, Yoshiaki SUGAWARA. Effects on Humans Elicited by Inhaling the Fragrance of Essential Oils: Sensory Test, Multi-Channel Thermometric Study and Forehead Surface Potential Wave Measurement on Basil and Peppermint. Analytical Sciences. 2003; 19: 139-146.

[3] Moss M1, Hewitt S, Moss L, Wesnes K. Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang. Int. J. Neuroscience, 2008. 18(1):59-77.

[4] Mark Ian Keith Norrish and Katie Louise Dwyer. Preliminary investigation of the effect of peppermint oil on an objective measure of daytime sleepiness. International Journal of Psychophysiology. 55 (2005) 291– 298.

[5] Toyoshi Umezu, Akiko Sakata and Hiroyasu Ito. Ambulation- promoting effect of peppermint oil and identification of its active constituents. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior 69 (2001) 383–390.

The best essential oils to help you with studying and memory! Great to help you focus on homework! Click the image to learn more about these essential oils for memory!

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