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Essential Oil Anti-Anxiety Studies

These two studies demonstrate a couple of documented anti-anxiety effects of the simple aromatherapy technique of inhalation of essential oil aromas. The first discusses an anti-anxiety effect of lavender essential oil on gerbils, interestingly particularly the female gerbils! The second uses lemon essential oil, comparing its anti-stress effect to three known anxiolytic chemical agents. The [...]

These two studies demonstrate a couple of documented anti-anxiety effects of the simple aromatherapy technique of inhalation of essential oil aromas. The first discusses an anti-anxiety effect of lavender essential oil on gerbils, interestingly particularly the female gerbils! The second uses lemon essential oil, comparing its anti-stress effect to three known anxiolytic chemical agents. The lemon aroma had the most potent effect.

Study: Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects of Lavandula angustifolia odour (Lavender essential oil) on the Mongolian gerbil elevated plus maze.

Bradley BF, Starkey NJ, Brown SL, Lea RW.
Department of Psychology, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, Lancashire, UK.

Lavender (essential oil) is a popular treatment for stress and mild anxiety in Europe and the USA. The present study investigated the effects of (Lavandula angustifolia Mill. (Lamiaceae)) lavender odour inhalation over 2 weeks or 24 h periods, on gerbil behaviour in the elevated plus maze in mature male and female gerbils, and compared results with the effects of diazepam (1 mg/kg) i.p. after 30 min and 2-week administration. Traditional measures of open entries showed an increasing trend over the 2 weeks exposure, whereas ethological measures indicative of anxiety; stretch-attend frequency and percentage protected head-dips, were significantly lower. Exploratory behaviour, total head-dip frequency, increased after 24 h lavender and 2 weeks exposure. These results are comparable with diazepam administration. There were sex differences in protected head-dip an ethological indicator of anxiety: females showed a significant decrease in protected head-dips compared to both males and to female controls. In conclusion exposure to lavender odour (Lavender essential oil) may have an anxiolytic profile in gerbils similar to that of the anxiolytic diazepam. In addition, prolonged, 2-week lavender odour exposure increased exploratory behaviour in females indicating a further decrease in anxiety in this sex.

Study: Lemon oil vapor (Lemon essential oil) causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-HT and DA activities in mice.

Komiya M, Takeuchi T, Harada E.
Graduate School of Veterinary Science, Faculty of Agriculture, Yamaguchi University, Yamaguchi 753-8515, Japan.

We examined the anti-stress action of the essential oils of lavender, rose, and lemon using an elevated plus-maze task (EPM), a forced swimming task (FST), and an open field task (OFT) in mice. Lemon oil had the strongest anti-stress effect in all three behavioral tasks. We further investigated a regulatory mechanism of the lemon oil by pre-treatments with agonists or antagonists to benzodiazepine, 5-HT, DA, and adrenaline receptors by the EPM and the FST. The anti-stress effect of lemon oil was significantly blocked by pre-treatment with frumazenil, benzodiazepine receptor antagonist, or apomorphine, a nonselective DA receptor agonist. In contrast, agonists or antagonists to the 5-HT receptor and the alpha-2 adrenaline receptor did not affect the anti-stress effect of lemon oil. Buspirone, DOI, and mianserine blocked the antidepressant-like effect of lemon oil in the FST, but WAY100,635 did not. These findings suggest that the antidepressant-like effect of lemon oil is closely related with the 5-HTnergic pathway, especially via 5-HT(1A) receptor. Moreover, the lemon oil significantly accelerated the metabolic turnover of DA in the hippocampus and of 5-HT in the prefrontal cortex and striatum. These results suggest that lemon oil possesses anxiolytic, antidepressant-like effects via the suppression of DA activity related to enhanced 5-HTnergic neurons.

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