Aromatherapy: The use of selected fragrant substances in lotions and inhalants in an effort to affect mood and promote health. Also called aromatic medicine, conventional aromatherapy, holistic aromatherapy.

Exposure to Natural Fragrances During Sleep Dramatically Boosts Cognitive Function
AGood-quality studies on aromatherapy are rare. One 2023 randomized trial from the University of California, Irvine had “astonishing” findings. One group of study participants aged 60 to 85 used a diffuser every night for six months (two hours of exposure to natural oil infusions of rose, orange, eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, and lavender), while the other received a sham treatment (trace scent amounts). Participants then underwent a battery of neuropsychological tests, comparing memory, verbal learning, planning, and attention-switching skills. The group exposed to nightly fragrance had a 226% difference in cognitive performance compared to the placebo group—and brain scans also revealed a significant change in the areas of the brain critical to memory and thinking. The researchers’ conclusion: minimal olfactory enrichment at night produces improvements in both cognitive and neural functioning and may provide an effective, low-effort pathway to improved brain health.  

Peppermint Aromatherapy Helps Mitigate Post-Op PONV
A small randomized controlled trial (2014) found support for the use of peppermint aromatherapy in conjunction with controlled breathing for postoperative nausea/vomiting (PONV) relief.