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Studies often utilize lavender essential oil, as its effects are well documented, it is easy to obtain, and now appears to display it’s aroma-therapeutic effect in a wide variety of conditions. The first study examines the use of lavender oil as an ingredient in the Ayurvedic methodology called ‘Shirdohara’, or the dripping/pouring of a warm fixed oil (such as sesame) on the forehead of a patient. The addition of lavender to the fixed oil significantly increased the relaxation response to the exposure.
The second indirectly implies the relaxing effects of lavender oil by testing the known relaxing constituent of the oil: Linalool. This molecule is naturally present in Lavendula angustifolia species, and is most prevelent in Lavender grown at high-elevations in France (hence the importance of ‘high-elevation’ lavender). This studied notes dramatic changes in physiology solely from the inhalation of Linalool. We expect the complete oil to be a more pleasant experience, as it smells more like a flower than just one, sweet, chemical constituent. The conditions used in the study – the vapor concentration of Linalool, can easily be created at home using a nebulizing aromatherapy diffuser with the lavender oil of your choice.
Study: Pharmaco-physio-psychologic effect of the Ayurvedic oil-dripping methodology using an essential oil from Lavendula angustifolia.
Xu F, Uebaba K, Ogawa H, Tatsuse T, Wang BH, Hisajima T, Venkatraman S. University of Toyama, Presymptomatic Health Promotion, Institute of Natural Medicine, University of Toyama, Toyama City, Japan.
Ayurvedic oil-dripping methodology, Shirodhara, involves the use of medicated herbal sesame oils. In our previous reports, we found that Shirodhara with plain sesame oil induced anxiolysis and an altered state of consciousness (ASC) in healthy subjects. We studied the pharmaco-physio-psychologic effect of Shirodhara with medicated sesame oil including an essential oil from Lavendula angustifolia (lavender) in the present study. Sixteen (16) healthy females (38 +/- 8 years old) were assigned at random to three exposures applied by a robotic oil-dripping system: plain sesame oil (plain Shirodhara), medicated sesame oil with a 0.3 volume % of lavender essential oil (lavender Shirodhara), or the control supine position.
Psychophysiologic parameters including the heart rate, skin temperature of the dorsum of hands and feet, as well as anxiety and ASC were monitored, and the rates of change of these items were calculated to assess the psychophysiologic changes brought about by Shirodhara. Lavender Shirodhara showed potent anxiolytic and ASC-inducing or promoting effects, and induced the largest increase in foot skin temperature. The correlation between anxiolysis and ASC, as well as the correlation between these psychologic effects and the elevated foot skin temperature were larger in the lavender Shirodhara than in the other two conditions.
It was speculated that the psycho-physiologic effects of lavender Shirodhara would be brought about by three mechanisms: (1) the well-known relaxing action of essential oils from L. angustifolia mediated by olfactory nerves, (2) the pharmacologic action of substances absorbed through the skin or mucosa in the sesame oil or lavender essential oil, and (3) the physiologic effect of sesame oil dripped on the forehead induced by the somato-autonomic reflex through thermosensors or pressure sensors in the skin or hair follicles via the trigeminal cranial nerve. The complicated pharmaco-physio-psychologic action of Ayurvedic oil exposure may provide a useful model for future pharmaco-physio-psychotherapy.
Study: Inhaled linalool-induced sedation in mice.
Linck VD, da Silva AL, Figueiró M, Luis Piato A, Paula Herrmann A, Dupont Birck F, Bastos Caramão E, Sávio Nunes D, Moreno PR, Elisabetsky E. Laboratório de Etnofarmacologia, Brazil; PPG Ciências Biológicas-Bioquímica, Brazil.
Linalool is a monoterpene often found as a major component of essential oils obtained from aromatic plant species, many of which are used in traditional medical systems as hypno-sedatives. Psychopharmacological evaluations of linalool (i.p. and i.c.v.) revealed marked sedative and anticonvulsant central effects in various mouse models. Considering this profile and alleged effects of inhaled lavender essential oil, the purpose of this study was to examine the sedative effects of inhaled linalool in mice. Mice were placed in an inhalation chamber during 60min, in an atmosphere saturated with 1% or 3% linalool. Immediately after inhalation, animals were evaluated regarding locomotion, barbiturate-induced sleeping time, body temperature and motor coordination (rota-rod test). The 1% and 3% linalool increased (p<0.01) pentobarbital sleeping time and reduced (p<0.01) body temperature. The 3% linalool decreased (p<0.01) locomotion. Motor coordination was not affected. Hence, linalool inhaled for 1h seems to induce sedation without significant impairment in motor abilities, a side effect shared by most psycholeptic drugs.*