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Have you ever walked into a room and instantly remembered something because of a smell? Like when a perfume makes you think of your mom, or the fresh grass smell brings back memories of playing in a park as a kid? Scents can bring up all sorts of memories, but not everything people say about them is proven by science. Aromatherapy uses essential oils to help the mind and body, but today we're talking about aromachology. This is a scientific way of studying how smells can affect our mind, body, and behavior. 

Have you heard that the scent of lavender can help you relax or sleep better? Well, there's actually scientific research supporting this idea! Scientists at Brown University looked at 18 studies about aromachology.1 They found that smelling lavender can indeed relax you, make you less stressed, and even help you wake up feeling more rested. The researchers also looked at studies about other scents like rosemary, peppermint, and orange. They discovered that rosemary can make you more alert and improve your memory. Peppermint might boost physical performance, like doing more push-ups or running faster. And the smell of oranges can lower anxiety and make you feel happier, especially during stressful times. While these scents won't solve all your problems, they can be a small step toward feeling better. 

But wait, there's more! A recent study found that smelling scents for just 2 hours while sleeping can help older adults remember things better.2 Scientists worked with people aged 65 to 80 and had them use a device to spread different scents while they slept. Each night, they smelled a new scent for 6 months. When the researchers tested their memory, those who smelled the scents did 226% better on a memory test compared to those who didn't. The smell group improved over time, while the others got worse. This study is based on the idea of environmental enrichment

Imagine your brain is like a muscle that you use to think, remember things, and solve problems. Just like you need to exercise your body to keep it strong, you also need to "exercise" your brain to keep it sharp. Environmental enrichment is a cool idea that says if you surround yourself with interesting and stimulating things, it's like giving your brain a really good workout. Now, think about smells. When you're in an environment with different scents, like the smell of flowers, food, or even something you enjoy, it's like giving your brain an extra boost. Just like how having lots of fun activities around makes your brain work better, smelling interesting scents can also make your brain function better, especially when it comes to remembering things. 

So, the next time you smell fresh baked bread, the ocean breeze, or a fresh sprig of rosemary, you may be improving your memory without even trying. Take a deep breath and enjoy the scents all around you! 


Aromachology - the scientific study of how scents can influence our mind, body, and behavior. 

Aromatherapy - the use of essential oils to treat the mind and body. 

Environmental Enrichment - creating surroundings that challenge and stimulate your brain, making it stronger and more capable of doing its job 


  1. Herz RS. Aromatherapy Facts and Fictions: A Scientific Analysis of Olfactory Effects on Mood, Physiology and Behavior. International Journal of Neuroscience. 2009;119(2):263-290. doi:10.1080/00207450802333953 

  1. Woo CC, Miranda B, Sathishkumar M, Dehkordi-Vakil F, Yassa MA, Leon M. Overnight olfactory enrichment using an odorant diffuser improves memory and modifies the uncinate fasciculus in older adults. Front Neurosci. 2023;17:1200448. doi:10.3389/fnins.2023.1200448 

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Woman in a field smelling a bouquet of lavender flowers