Everyone seems to know that there is something to lavender when it comes to relaxing and releasing stress. Up to now, its use as a stress reliever has been mostly anecdotal and handed down as an herbal for generations. It's found in Europe, across Africa and into India. In North America, it can be found as an ornamental plant in gardens.
The most cultivated form of the plant is the common or English lavender Lavandula angustifolia. It has been used in folk medicine and herbalism since the dark ages. You can find it in potpourri, or as an aromatherapeutic oil. Its also made it into some culinary applications. It is known for its effect on relaxation, alleviating anxiety, insomnia, intestinal discomfort and cardiovascular support. However, there has not been any in-depth research on the medicinal effect of lavender.
In a recent release, Japanese researchers from Kagoshima University published a paper on Linalool Odor-Induced Anxiolytic Effects in Mice. Linalool refers to naturally occurring terpene found in flowers and spice plants. These terpene oils are found in plants like lavender and coriander. The researchers were looking into the anxiolytic effects of the odour compounds on the neuronal mechanism.
Many of the commonly prescribed drugs used to treat anxiety disorders have various side effects that may in themselves be more egregious to the patient than the anxiousness and anxiety. For the experiment, the researchers compared the results of the behavioural test in mice between Diazepam, Flumazenil and the Linalool odour. They subjected the mice to Light/Dark Box test, an elevated plus maze test, accelerated rotarod test and an olfactory epithelium deprivation test.
The results proved interesting as the light/dark box test revealed that exposure to the linalool odour increased the exploration by the mice. It had a similar comparable effect to the mice and diazepam. They also showed that the linalool odour exposure had no discernable impairment effect in the rotarod test. The results strongly suggest that linalool odour exposure has anxiolytic effects without impairment.
The paper goes on to explore whether or not the anxiolytic effect was triggered by the olfactory input and what receptors were involved in the linalool odour-induced anxiolytic effects. They also showed that the anxiolytic effect was not experienced by anosmic (inability to perceive odour or a lack of functioning olfaction) mice.
This was a fascinating and interesting study from the perspective of a consumer. Anecdotally we knew that the lavender odour has a soothing effect and now there is science showing that the odour does, in fact, have an impact on anxiety.
So, get those lavender filled pouches and oils going and relax.