To stay alert and attentive at the wheel, forget the coffee, coffee and more coffee! Researchers from the Jesuit University in Wheeling, WV have shown that a whiff of Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) or Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)essential oil increases alertness, reduces fatigue, and even lowers drivers’ anxiety and frustration.
To test the effects of the aromas from these essential oils, the researchers had 25 college students sniff peppermint, cinnamon, or a non-odor control for 30 seconds every 15 minutes during simulated driving conditions.
Prolonged driving led to increased anger and fatigue, and decreased vigor. With the scent of peppermint essential oil, fatigue, anxiety, and driver frustration ratings fell significantly and driver alertness ratings rose impressively.
Smelling cinnamon also made drivers more alert and lowered their levels of frustration. Additionally, with the periodic whiffs of cinnamon aroma, ratings of “workload” associated with driving also fell.
With these results it is reasonable to expect that periodic sniffs of peppermint or cinnamon essential oils may produce a more alert and conscientious driver and minimize fatigue associated with long road trips.
There are endless instances where this could be helpful. A couple that come to mind are staying awake in church during a boring sermon, or staying awake during a recital or lecture. It is certain that most people will have some occasion where more alertness is needed. Use of these essential oils is a safe, natural way to keep alert.
Take caution, however, when you sniff a bottle of cinnamon oil. It is really strong, so hold it several inches away from your nose, or sniff the cap. Otherwise it may be a bit overwhelming.
While driving, put a few drops of the essential oil on a tissue, and then stick the end of the tissue in the vent of the air-conditioner, letting the air blow on the tissue and dispersing the oil throughout the car. This is similar to having your own diffuser. Now everyone in the car can perk up, and as a bonus, the stale air in the car will now be freshened.
This article is written for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat medical problems. The advice and care of a physician is recommended for your health concerns. Aromatherapy is intended as complementary care with health care providers, not as an alternative to care.
A registered aromatherapist, Judy has a special interest in using essential oils in health care and prevention.