Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang

Mark Moss, Steven Hewitt, Lucy Moss, Keith Wesnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)
33 Downloads (Pure)


This study provides further evidence for the impact of the aromas of plant essential oils on aspects of cognition and mood in healthy participants. One hundred and forty-four volunteers were randomly assigned to conditions of ylang-ylang aroma, peppermint aroma, or no aroma control. Cognitive performance was assessed using the Cognitive Drug Research computerized assessment battery, with mood scales completed before and after cognitive testing. The analysis of the data revealed significant differences between conditions on a number of the factors underpinning the tests that constitute the battery. Peppermint was found to enhance memory whereas ylang-ylang impaired it, and lengthened processing speed. In terms of subjective mood peppermint increased alertness and ylang-ylang decreased it, but significantly increased calmness. These results provide support for the contention that the aromas of essential oils can produce significant and idiosyncratic effects on both subjective and objective assessments of aspects of human behavior. They are discussed with reference to possible pharmacological and psychological modes of influence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-77
JournalInternational Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


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