Do you work in an environment that’s stressful, where you’re frequently dealing with upset or stressed out customers? Maybe like a bank or insurance company. Or perhaps you work in a clinic, where your clients are waiting anxiously, e.g. a dentist. And what about the staff or employees who work with you or for you? Would you be interested in improving their mood and performance? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions then you’ll be happy to know that essential oils can help you out here.
A number of scientific studies carried out over the years have shown that the aromas of essential oils can and do affect our mood and performance (see the papers listed at the end of this article). While one of these studies used an oil burner, we strongly recommend an oil diffuser for the best effect.
How can aromas or smelling essential oils affect our mood you may ask? The sense of olfactory (smell) is hardwired into the brain. When you inhale a fragrance, the odor molecules attach themselves to receptor cells sites inside the nasal membrane. When stimulated by odor molecules, these nerve cells triggers electrical impulses to the olfactory bulb in the brain. The olfactory bulb then transmits these impulses to the gustatory centre (where the sensation of taste is perceived), the amygdala (where emotional memories are stored), and other parts of the limbic centre in the brain. The limbic centre is connected to the parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels, and hormonal levels. This is one way in which essential oils can have physiological and psychological effects. 
So what oils are best?
If you are trying to improve work performance (your own and others), try diffusing Peppermint and Lemon oils in your office. If you find yourself flagging or getting a little sleepy in mid-afternoon (especially after a big lunch) try inhaling a little peppermint or putting a couple of drops in a glass of water ( Tip – Inhaling a little peppermint can even come in handy when you’re driving and finding yourself getting sleepy behind the wheel ). Lemon has been found to help reduce depression and stress when inhaled.  Think of the possibilities here, if you work in a clinic or counselling practice; not to mention the busy customer service counter of a bank or insurance office.
Another oil that has been tested in a clinical environment is Lavender. In a study reported in the International Journal of Nursing Practice, 85% of respondents to a questionnaire said that there had been a positive improvement in the work environment following the use of Lavender oil burners (imagine if they had used diffusers). . The Essential Oils Desk Reference also lists the following oils as beneficial in dealing with anger and agitation: Bergamot, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Rose, Sandalwood and Ylang Ylang*.
Some might ask is it ethical to change the mood of your customers or co-workers? Isn’t it like brain-washing? My answer to this is that I’ve been in many situations where I wished I had kept a cool head. Sometimes our emotions get in the way of rational discussions. Sure, there are times we need to be assertive, but not a lot is achieved by blowing our stack either. Essential oils can play a role in improving our workplaces. If you would like more information on the oils mentioned in the article please contact us. If you would like to buy any of them, please visit our website
Till Next time
Hirsch A R, Johnston L H. Odors and Learning. J. Neurol Orthop Med Surg. 1996; 17:119-126
Komori T, Fujiwara R, Tanida M, Nomura J. Application of fragrances to treatments for depression. Hihon Shinkei Seishin Yakurigaku Zasshi. 1995 Feb; 15(1):39-42
Komori T, Fujiwara R, Tanida M, Nomura J. Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states. Neuroimmunomodulation. 1995 May-Jun; 2(3): 174-80
Moss M, Cook J, Wesnes K, Duckett P. Aromas of Rosemary and Lavender Essential Oils Differentially Affect Cognition and mood in healthy adults. Intern. J. Neuroscience. 2003; 113:15-38
Moss M, Hewitt S, Moss L, Wesnes K. Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang. Intern. J. Neuroscience. 2008; 118:59-77
Nasal, C, et al. Functional imaging of effects of fragrances on the human brain after prolonged inhalation. Chemical Senses. 1994; 19(4): 359-64
Tysoe P. The effect on staff of essential oil burners in extended care settings. International Journal of Nursing Practice. 2000; 6:110-112
Yim V W C, Ng A K Y, Tsang H, Leung A Y. A Review on the effects of aromatherapy for patients with depressive symptoms. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2009; 15(4):187-195
Disclaimer: Please remember that anything discussed here does not
constitute medical advice and cannot substitute for appropriate medical care. Where essential oils are mentioned, it’s recommended you use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety directions of the manufacturer.
* A study carried out at the University of Northumbria found that Peppermint enhanced memory while Ylang Ylang impaired it, and that peppermint increased alertness while Ylang Ylang decreased it. Ylang Ylang though was shown to increase calmness. So maybe use Ylang Ylang in the area where your customers or patients are waiting, but Peppermint in the back office.
 Chapter 2, The Powerful Influence of Aromas on Both Mind and Body , Essential Oils Desk Reference, p12
 Komori, Fujiward, Tanida, Nomura, Yokoyama “Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states”. Neuroimmunomodulation. 1995 May-Jun; 2(3):174-80
Tysoe P. The effect on staff of essential oil burners in extended care settings. International Journal of Nursing Practice. 2000 6:110-112