What is the benefit of Lavender Essential Oil

Why lavender is really calming

The pleasant scent of lavender is known to have a calming effect on people, lavender oils or scented sachets are supposed to bring us relaxation. Researchers have scientifically investigated why lavender lets us relax.

The power of linalool

Lavender not only smells wonderful, its essential oils are also said to have a calming effect. For example, lavender oil is said to help you fall asleep and has a balancing effect.

Science blames the ingredient linalool, which is also found in other essential vegetable oils such as thyme or lemon balm. This assumption is correct and its calming effect has also been proven in studies - but linalool does not work, as previously assumed, as an active ingredient absorbed by the body, say Japanese researchers.

Instead, the effect of linalool unfolds exclusively through the sense of smell, as the scientists at Kagoshima University discovered in a study. They have now published their results in the magazine "Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience".

The experiment

Hideko Kashiwadani and his team exposed mice to the linalool vapors in their experiments and observed what happened. They found out that the volatile constituents from the lavender blossom unfolded their effect when the mice smelled them.

If the active substance was perceived by the animals through the nose, it stimulated the olfactory sensors in the nose and thus triggered calming processes in the brain.

Inhaling the lavender scent alone was not enough to have a calming effect. When the Japanese research team also carried out their experiment on rodents without a functioning sense of smell, the calming effect of the linalool was not evident: the animals were completely unimpressed by the fragrant surroundings.

The Japanese researchers rated this as a decisive sign that the positive effect is not created by simply inhaling the substance, but rather by smelling the scent itself.

Advantages in clinical use

In contrast to common anxiety relievers such as benzodiazepines, the natural substance of lavender is comparatively free of side effects, the researchers state. The smell of linalool does not lead to sluggishness or severe drowsiness, as is typical when consuming Valium, for example.

This could result in easy-to-use alternatives in medicine in the future - for example, to calm patients down before minor operations.