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The Nu Co Mind Energy Fragrance
via Instagram @thenu_co

Will this fragrance clear our pandemic-induced ‘brain-fog’?


TextHannah Bertolino

The Nue Co claims their holistic perfume-style ‘fragrance supplement’ can improve focus and boost mental clarity – we asked a neuroscientist if it actually works

From Bella Hadid’s new “brain-care” drink to deep-green chlorophyll water, wellness products seem to be having a major moment right now, offering approachable, holistic alternatives to solve our day-to-day stressors. TBH, it’s really not that shocking – after the last two years of COVID lockdowns and political crises, we’ll try anything that promises to cure our serotonin-depleted brains. Now, joining the line-up, is health brand The Nue Co’s latest product: a fragrance-based supplement spray. 

Combining sustainable and upcycled vegan extracts of Madagascan clove leaf oil, Moroccan cedarwood, and Egyptian geranium oil with the scents of clary sage, juniper, pink peppercorn, and clove, the product uses “patented olfactory technology to stimulate neural pathways”. More specifically, the $95 fragrance claims to improve focus on a short and long-term basis and boost mental clarity from a few sprays.

“Of the five senses, scent is the only one with a direct line to three of the most important areas of the brain: the orbitofrontal cortex, which signifies awareness; the hippocampus, which is linked to memory; and the amygdala, which helps us sort smells and is directly associated with our emotions and mood,” states The Nue Co’s website. “Simply put, fragrance is one of the fastest ways to alter your emotional state.” 

According to a study listed on The Nue Co’s website, after 30 days using MIND ENERGY, 86 per cent of people felt they had more focus, 76 per cent felt an improvement in their productivity levels, and 76 per cent felt more alert. 

However, while MIND ENERGY sounds like the mental fog cure we’ve all been waiting for, 2021’s wellness boom seems to coincide with a number of mistruths and misconceptions. Bella Hadid’s Kin Euphorics drinks might not be powerful enough to help with diagnosed health conditions, and chlorophyll has not been proven to improve skin or aid in weight loss… so can MIND ENERGY really improve our day-to-day wellness? We spoke to Professor Oliver Robinson, who specialises in neuroscience and mental health at UCL, to find out.

The perfume promises to improve focus instantly and long-term and to improve mental energy through the use of “sustainable extracts”. The Nu Co website says these ingredients help to stimulate neural pathways – what’s the science behind the perfume stimulating your brain?

Oliver Robinson: At the end of the day, your senses – your eyes, your ears, your nose, etc. – they’re all stimulating your brain. They are external detectors which are detecting the stuff in the environment because they have neurons in them that send signals to the brain. By that measure, absolutely everything you do is stimulating the brain. You can say that smelling something is stimulating the brain, because of course it does. If it wasn’t stimulating the brain, you wouldn’t be smelling it, because that’s the definition of smell.

“It could be a form of the placebo effect, but – even so – smells are so evocative, and that could work extremely well for your mental health” - Professor Oliver Robinson

The wellness industry is booming right now, with people across the internet seeking holistic wellness and self care alternatives. From a scientific perspective, do you think these alternative methods work? Or could they be a form of the placebo effect?

Oliver Robinson: In this case, any claims about these smells doing anything out of the ordinary on a scientific level should be treated with extreme skepticism – there’s nothing magical going on there. On the other hand – as someone who studies anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions – smells are meaningful and important to people. It can relax them, it can make them less stressed, and it can do all sorts of things.

Lavender, for example, is usually associated with positive places – like when you go to a spa and smell lavender. One way that therapy works is putting people back into a mindspace of when things are positive or when things are good. If you have a positive association with the smell of lavender or pink peppercorns or any of the ingredients in the fragrance, then that could trigger all sorts of positive associations. It could be a form of the placebo effect, but – even so – smells are so evocative, and that could work extremely well for your mental health.

Would you recommend people try MIND ENERGY? 

Oliver Robinson: When it comes to mental health and energy, people should go into it with an open mind and try what they think might work for them – if that’s this perfume, then that’s great! On the other hand, you don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money for something scent-based like this. 

Also, if you’re really struggling with energy or focus or mental health, you should go and see your doctor. In that case, you could receive therapy or get a medication – something with concrete evidence behind it. That’s not to say that anything in the wellness sphere doesn’t work, people should just be skeptical and see what works for them.

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