How to Improve Test Performance and Calm the Mind…Without Drugs
How to Improve Test Performance and Calm the Mind...Without Drugs

How to Improve Test Performance and Calm the Mind…Without Drugs

School is back in session for many, or perhaps this year your children are in a homeschool group, or you’re teaching them at home.  With any form of school comes new friendships, adventures, opportunities and challenges.

Today’s post will provide some proven tips to overcome common learning challenges and help your child actually enjoy school.


My Opinion on Children Who “Just Can’t Sit Still”

I work with a lot of children in my practice, and two main concerns of parents this time of year are:

“Why can’t my child sit still in school?”


 “How can I help my child improve test performance?”

My thought is that oftentimes these children are simply lacking enough movement, outdoor activity, proper nutrition and beneficial mental stimulation. Many children benefit from some gentle detoxing, food elimination techniques and chiropractic care to help balance their digestive, sensory and nervous systems.

To me, it’s maddening how many dangerous prescriptions for amphetamine-based drugs (like Adderall) are doled out to children and teens, all to help them “sit still and comply.” But at what cost to their long-term physical and emotional health?

As parents, I believe it’s our responsibility to look for natural, non-toxic alternatives and I have some great ones for you today.


The Key Sense That Is Often Overlooked in Learning

We know that every child learns differently. However, most teachers and parents don’t realize how powerful the sense of smell is when it comes to learning and retaining new information.

I experienced this first-hand when I was going through board exams to get my doctorate.

I would choose one of my favorite oils for each subject and apply to my temples, under my nose and inside my wrists while I was studying or sitting in class. Then, come test time, I would repeat the same ritual.

For example, biochemistry was one of my least favorite subjects (big surprise there, right?) so, I chose stimulating and invigorating peppermint, to help keep me alert and focused.

By using the same oils during the exam, the familiar smell would trigger areas of my limbic system and helped me recall the information quickly and effectively.

Kind of like how the aroma of fresh-baked cookies or chicken soup will transport you back to the warmth of grandma’s kitchen, these same reactions are at play. The results in my test performance were remarkable! I only wished I had known about this earlier in my academic career.


 How to Improve Test Performance and Calm the Mind...Without Drugs holistic doctor mama

How Can Something So Simple Work So Well to Help Improve Test Performance?

The reason essential oils work for enhancing learning lies in the connection between the limbic and olfactory systems.

The limbic system is responsible for motivation, reinforcing behaviors, learning and memory. The olfactory system is responsible for categorizing smells.

Since survival of the limbic system is critical to many species, some of its regions are closely connected to the olfactory systems.

If something smells bad, such as spoiled meat, you will remember not to associate with it. If something smells pleasant, such as a ripe peach, you will gravitate towards it. Aren’t our bodies magnificently designed?

The American Medical Association Journal confirms that Essential Oils DO help with OVER-ENTHUSIASTIC children!

So, you’re probably thinking, okay great. Aromatherapy for studying…a little out there, but it makes sense.

But it couldn’t possibly work for my child with ADD/ADHD…can it?

YES, IT CAN. Allow me to explain how… 

I see so many children with attention issues, and sensory stimulation is a key factor. Many of the parents tell me that their child smells everything and using essential oils can be very beneficial and intuitive for them.

AND I’ve got a published medical study to prove it.

In a 2001, a two-year case study published in The American Medical Association Journal: Terry Friedman, M.D. administered therapeutic essential oils to children who previously had been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. The children inhaled an oil three times a day for 30 days (Dr. Friedmann found that the inhalation process helped settle the brain waves back into normal patterns).

The children also received a constant inhalation of the essential oil at bedtime and throughout the night via diffuser. The results: the children showed noteworthy improvement in their school performance and behavior. 


Dr. Friedman’s findings were:

  • Lavender: 53% performance increase
  • Cedarwood: 83% performance increase
  • Vetiver: 100% performance increase

Impressive to say the least, don’t you think?

The Best Essential Oil Combos for Improved Test Performance and a Calm Mind Include:


Obviously, Vetiver is a clear a winner here, but not everyone likes the smell of straight Vetiver. Below are some yummy combinations you can try out with your children, plus some Vetiver-free options that have worked wonders for my patients.

  • Vetiver and Lavender
  • Vetiver, Lavender, and Cedarwood (as mentioned in the study above)
  • Dill and Roman Chamomile (diffused before school and while studying after school)
  • Vetiver and Frankincense

If you’re attracted to giving some of these a try, click here for a package I created for you using doTERRA essential oils. You can also elect to remove or add any oils you’d like, making the package work for you.

Cultivate your children’s intuition by letting them engage with their own health.

One of the reasons I LOVE using essential oils with kids is how they enjoy learning to use them. By allowing your kids to help pick and choose their own oils, you are teaching them to tap into their sense of body awareness and develop their own healing intuition.

My daughters LOVE picking out their oils, as they become aware of which ones will help them and which ones they really need. Because of their inherent openness and desire to learn, if we let them, kids make natural healers.

I would value hearing your experiences with this topic. Have you used aromatherapy to help you or your kids excel? What combinations or methods work for you? Have you run into any interest or resistance from teachers? Please share your insights in the comments below!

Here’s another bonus for you: my FREE guide on 15 Foods to Never Feed Your Kids Again will be super supportive in keeping your children calm, focused and healthy.

Have a wonderful, happy back-to-school this year!


Wishing you well,

Dr. Jessica



Hi! I'm Dr. Jessica

Hi! I'm Dr. Jessica

I’m Dr. Jessica Payne, Medical Intuitive, Doctor of Natural Medicine, and your go-to guide for living your life naturally…More

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