You know the phrase “a bundle of energy?” Well, chances are, that bundle’s a bouquet.


There’s no shortage of evidence that the scent of certain flowers and herbs can have genuine physiological impacts on mind and body, from alleviating stress to relieving migraines. It’s been shown that lavender can help you sleep, for instance, and that pumpkin is an aphrodisiac to men. (Although, if you buy that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, it might just be the pie.) While some of the suggested cause-and-effect of scent calls for a lot more study, there are at least five key scents that, according to the National Institutes of Health database (among other sources) have solid evidence behind them when they say they’re energizing. And in times like these, when even things like seeing friends or staying healthy can be stressful, we can use all the positive energy we can get.


  • Peppermint. The king of invigoration, peppermint has been shown to decrease fatigue and increase performance when exercising. It’s also been linked to better concentration and motivation. And honestly, who hasn’t felt peppier after smelling it? After all, it is in the name.
  • Sweet orange. Cheerful and uplifting, it’s said to simultaneously relax us, reducing a racing pulse. One study even showed it increasing lung function — and as most of us know, oxygen is the biggest upper of all.
  • Spearmint. While some might consider it a peppermint wanna-be, spearmint has a solid rep all its own. Not just pleasantly cooling, it has been shown to boost learning and alertness. And thanks to chemical compounds like limonene (also found in citrus peels), it’s a great energizer.
  • The scent of rosemary is said to decrease the stress hormone cortisol in your blood — and so does lavender — which is the kind of pick-me-up we could all use now. What’s more, it’s been known to perk up your memory since Greek scholars inhaled it before exams.
  • No surprise here, lemon is an upbeat superstar — or in the words of a psychoneuroendocrinology study (say that five times fast), “reliably enhances positive mood.” Like sweet orange and other citrus perfumery staples (mandarin, bergamot, clementine, grapefruit, lemongrass), it’s one of the quickest fixes when you’re dragging.


The list could go on, if you feel like doing some experimenting on your own — cinnamon, ginger root, pine, juniper, basil, etc., etc., etc. And let’s not forget some unsung heroes of scent: those that simply trigger positive memories and emotional associations that, in turn, can leave us feeling more ourselves. Coffee. Chocolate. Fresh baked bread. Pipe tobacco (for some). But while you’re gathering your anecdotal evidence, don’t forget that just applying a scent you like — one that makes you feel vibrant or alluring, feminine or larger than life — can be energizing all on its own.

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