Study: The Effects of Zen MONQ® on Meditative and Relaxed States
Guest Blogger: Stephanie Verheyen, Inbound Marketing Strategist, MONQ Blog Curator (B.A. in Psychology, Masters in Marketing)
As you may have read in “You Evolved to Breathe Plants”, terpene deficiency has been proposed as an evolutionary reason for the stress that many of us feel on a regular basis, especially those of us who live in urban environments.
MONQ® Personal Aromatherapy Diffusers were designed as a solution to this problem. The essential oils contained in our diffusers were carefully selected because of their known health benefits, and combined such that the three primary ingredients in each blend would play on and amplify each other for a more pronounced effect on emotions or mental state. So far, there have been very few formal studies on the efficacy of aromatherapy, and evidence for the benefits of MONQ® diffusers specifically has been purely anecdotal. Until now.
Close to 3,000 5-star reviews on our Facebook page tout the positive effects that MONQ Therapeutic Air® has had for our customers, but we know there will always be skeptics. So we decided to run a study that would hopefully yield scientific proof.
We started with Zen, our most popular blend and the one we recommend the most highly for stress relief. We’ll break the study down for you here in the six steps of the scientific method (throw back to middle school, anyone?!).
Does MONQ actually have a measurable effect on your brain?
The Background Research:
We have cited several references in our original paper here, and below are some additional blog
posts that explain the history and science behind aromatherapy and MONQ:
To learn more about meditation as it was used by our participants, check out these posts on our
When used correctly (a moderate breath taken into the mouth and exhaled slowly through the nose), Zen MONQ increases relaxation and enhances a meditative state more than a placebo diffuser.
You’ve probably heard of EEG brain measurement before, but what does it actually do? Brain waves can be measured as electrical impulses, and electroencephalography records the patterns of this brain activity. There are four major types of brain waves:
- Beta Waves (12 to 38 Hz) – These are the waves that represent our regular daily state – we are
awake, alert, and paying attention to some task or to the world around us.
- Alpha Waves (8 to 12 Hz) – These are also present when we are awake, but are more of a
baseline. They are active when we are calm, thinking quietly, and focusing on the current
moment. They are the gateway to reaching a meditative state.
- Theta Waves (3 to 8 Hz) – These also occur in sleep and deep meditation, but there is awareness
directed within. Theta waves represent dream states with clear imagery, and foster learning and
- Delta Waves (.5 to 3 Hz) – These are generated in dreamless sleep or in deep meditative states,
and block off all awareness to the external world. They also stimulate healing and regeneration,
which is what makes deep sleep and meditation so restorative for your body
In this study we looked at alpha and theta waves, because they are the most active in common meditation. Delta waves require a meditative state so deep and difficult to achieve that it is not realistic to expect of a typical MONQ user. In terms of measurement, more alpha and theta waves indicated “a transition to or increased level of resting and meditative states” (see original paper for references).
We fitted our participants with wireless EEG headsets and asked them to meditate for 20 minutes in whichever way they usually would while their brain activity was recorded. Each participant completed two sessions, one with a Zen diffuser and one with a placebo, on two different days.
The Data and Some Conclusions:
Immediately after our participants used Zen during meditation, their brain waves showed a significant increase in relaxation. The effect is shown in this graph: Relaxation Increased After Using Zen MONQ During Meditation.
Note: the “Control” was a 10-minute period of resting without meditation, when regular brain waves
We also observed a 5% increase in alpha and theta waves after the use of Zen
The EEG headsets we used allowed us to map the locations of brain activity throughout the
experiment. As indicated by the black arrows, you can see that there is more alpha and theta activity
with the use of Zen:
It’s also interesting to note that the increase in alpha and theta waves occurred in the occipital and
frontal areas of the brain. The occipital lobe is associated with visual interpretation. The frontal lobe
is associated with high-level cognition, reasoning, and motor skills. One possible explanation for
these localized increases is that Zen may help to increase clarity of mind during meditation. This
would agree with the known uses of two of Zen’s primary ingredients, Frankincense and Sweet
Our preliminary findings are very promising and we are excited to continue this research with a
larger sample size!
Inbound Marketing Strategist @ MONQ
B.A. in Psychology, Masters in Marketing
Favorite MONQ blend: Ocean