Fragrance Friday: Is Lavender The New Valium?

This week, the New York Times published an article detailing research that suggests lavender really does have the healing power of calming stress and anxiety for which it has been reputed over centuries: Lavender’s Soothing Scent Could Be More Than Just Folk Medicine.

In a study published Tuesday in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, [the researcher] and his colleagues found that sniffing linalool, an alcohol component of lavender odor, was kind of like popping a Valium. It worked on the same parts of a mouse’s brain, but without all the dizzying side effects. And it didn’t target parts of the brain directly from the bloodstream, as was thought. Relief from anxiety could be triggered just by inhaling through a healthy nose.

But why stop at lavender? It seems the key substance is linalool, which occurs naturally in many plants and spices, and is listed as an ingredient in fragranced products, as Lush notes:

Linalool is a colourless liquid with a soft, sweet odour. It occurs naturally in many essential oils, such as tangerine, spearmint, rose, cypress, lemon, cinnamon and ylang ylang. It has a soft, sweet scent. Ho wood oil is used in some fragrances, which is linalool in its natural form, for the woody, sweet note it gives.  Even when ingredients are naturally occurring fragrance constituents they are included in quantitative ingredients lists,  this enables people to decide which product is right for them.

One can even search on the Lush websites (UK and USA) for products by ingredient, so it is possible to identify specific products of theirs that contain linalool, including several of their solid and spray perfumes.

Time for me to break out an essential oil diffuser with a strong dose of lavender! That seems fitting for a blog titled “Serenity Now.” Do you find that lavender has a calming effect on you? How do you use it or other essential oils to create calm in your surroundings?

Featured image from http://www.nytimes.com, by Eric Gaillard for Reuters.

8 thoughts on “Fragrance Friday: Is Lavender The New Valium?

  1. Inspired by this article and Susurrus’ comment, I went out and got several essential oils to use in a diffuser I keep in my office at work. I get lots of stressed out students visiting at this time of year, so I’m thinking a little lavender tranquilizer might be useful! As well as some others. I even found a blend labeled “Chill Pill”!

  2. You already know that I am a huge fan of essential oils and use them constantly as well as make my own blends with them. Lavender is a staple in my house. I use it for diffusing, wearing and making body oils, body lotions and balms for lip and body as well as solid perfumes. It definitely relaxes me but so do so many of the “base note” oils like frankincense, vanilla, patchouli, labdanum, cedarwood and sandalwood. I am currently working on a marination of labdanum 10 percent with a two vanilla beans…my hope is within a few weeks I will have an amber body oil to use all over for the winter. I also purchased fir needle oil and may combine that with my homemade vanilla bean oil to use also as an all over moisturizer and to remind me of the holidays. I will be a 93 lb walking Christmas tree 🙂

      • those sound delightful! I hope that now you have fallen down the essential oil rabbit hole you will start to seek out some of the more “exotic” stuff…you really need to smell tuberose absolute, osmanthus e.o., champaca e.o., pink lotus, orris butter , etc , etc , etc. Nothing better than the real stuff!!!

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