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Huff some lavender oil for stress! Backed by the latest science

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I'm a big fan of oral lavender oil ca. 80mg or so capped up (Lavandula angustifolia from the chemist/supermarket), it's as efficacious as paroxetine and lorazepam for GAD. Now if you're stressed or have been stressed, huff the stuff!

Inhalation of a racemic mixture (R,S)-linalool by rats experiencing restraint stress alters neuropeptide and MHC class I gene expression in the hypothalamus.


Some odorants have physiological and psychological effects on organisms. However, little is known about the effects of inhaling them, particularly on the central nervous system. Using DNA microarray analysis, we obtained gene expression profiles of the hypothalamus from restraint stressed rats exposed to racemic (R,S)-linalool. Hierarchical clustering across all probe sets showed that this inhalation of (R,S)-linalool influenced the expression levels of a wide range of genes in the hypothalamus. A comparison of transcription levels revealed that the inhalation of (R,S)-linalool restored the expression of 560 stress-induced probe sets to a normal status. Gene Ontology (GO) analysis showed that these genes were associated with synaptic transmission via neurotransmitters including anxiolytic neuropeptides such as oxytocin and neuropeptide Y. These genes also included several major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules necessary for neural development and plasticity. Moreover, Upstream Regulator Analysis predicted that the hormone prolactin would be activated by the inhalation of (R,S)-linalool under stress. Our results reveal some of the molecular mechanisms associated with odor inhalation in the hypothalamus in organisms under stress.

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I've always 'known' that crushed lavender or a lavender oil on a tissue inhaled is an instant cure for anxiety-attack (a.k.a green-out) and I guess this now proves it.


(80mg you say.  Is brand important?)

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80mg is what the Germans use as Silexan. It's just capped L angustifolia oil. I've used Thursday Plantation from the supermarket and that works well, also Bosisto's from the chemist. I've used up to a few mLs (not technically recommended) to do full blown alcohol withdrawals that would normally require 30mg diazepam. It's effective! VDCC blockade like pregabalin, GABAA modulation (in a non-habit forming way) and NMDAR modulation. A winner. It doesn't seem to have abuse potential nor withdrawals and I've used it for a few weeks and stopped suddenly.

Good luck!

Edited by Alchemica
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Been getting the aromatherapy into me, rather than ingesting.


 I was in the past fixated on oral ingestion being 'the way to go therapeutically' for things like lavender but I've often wondered if it really is... More and more people seem to be using the Silexan oral oils, particularly now they are widespread at Australian chemists, have you had any experience, good or bad with them, particularly compared to lavender as aromatherapy?


Aroma via a diffuser has lately been a important aspect to enrich my environment with day-to-day, without those it becomes too easy to get lost in the void of your own inner world without things like that stimulating you via the environment in isolation as some form of modulating connection to the world around you, in the moment, with a degree of impermanence and day-to-day flux


"Aromatherapy seems to drive autonomic nervous activity toward a balanced state."


In anxiety and stress, sympathetic activity is often increased, together with decreased parasympathetic activity. It has been noted there are higher sympathetic activities for depressed and anxious subjects than for normal subjects:"Positive emotions result in altered autonomic nervous system activity, characterized by increased parasympathetic nervous system activity, whereas negative emotions (e.g., anger) result in parasympathetic withdrawal and sympathetic activity"


It is said there are parasympathetic-stimulating oils like lavender and the sympathetic-stimulating oils like rosemary but a study has noted that short inhalation of essential oils suppresses parasympathetic nervous activation while continuous inhalation suppresses sympathetic nervous activation [1]


Oils that cause parasympathetic stimulation of the autonomic nervous system in turn are associated with decreased anxiety, improved mood, and increased sedation whereas the sympathetic-stimulating oils have been associated with increased arousal, improved cognition and memory, and enhanced performance on cognitive assessment tests [2]


Essential oil inhalation is often effective in reducing the stress index, and that it effectively regulated the activity of the hypothalamus to provide stable and relaxing conditions by creating balance and harmony in the sympathetic nervous system


"A clinical study with depressed patients revealed that it was possible to reduce the needed antidepressants' doses by inhaling a mixture of citrus oils; moreover, inhalation of the oil by itself was antidepressive and normalized neuroendocrine hormone levels" [3]


With regard to agitation and anxiety, in a clinical mental health population, there were significant reductions in needed medications for anxiety or agitation


With regard to depression, significantly more improvement in scores on depression, anxiety, and severity of emotional symptoms, studies finding effects independent of personality traits, psychological status, and psychotherapeutic medication


[1] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288053919_Effects_of_essential_oils_used_in_aromatherapy_on_the_autonomic_nervous_system_A_study_using_three_different_methods
[2] https://libres.uncg.edu/ir/uncg/f/M_Shattell_HealingScents_2008.pdf
[3] https://www.mitchmedical.us/essential-oils/psychopharmacology-of-essential-oils.html



Lavender is rising through the ranks of anti-anxiety medications


Lavender oil and its active component, linalool, has anxiolytic, mood stabiliser, sedative, analgesic, and anticonvulsive and neuroprotective properties with antidepressant, prosocial and anticonflict effects in animal models


It shows efficacy in anxiety disorders and the treatment of agitated behaviour as a neuropsychiatric symptom [1]

Simple olfactory stimulation in healthy subjects has been shown to induce changes in brain including the frontopolar, orbitofrontal, and temporal cortex. Olfactory processing depends on dopamine metabolism and orbitofrontal cortex functioning and altering cortical olfactory processing has been associated with improved hyperactivity and impulsivity in some conditions [2] and essential oils may rehabilitate brain dopamine function [3]. There is sensory input-dependent regulation of dopamine and GABA [4]


The effect on the nervous system is summarised in [5]:


Inhaled it showed anxiolytic properties, increased social interaction, and decreased aggressive behaviour and exposure to lavender effectively improved anticholinergic-induced memory deficits


It has potent anxiolytic effects via VDCCs and while linalool does not act directly on GABAA receptors it appears to activate them via olfactory neurons in the nose in order to produce its relaxing effects [6]. While opioidergic neurotransmission and cholinergic neurotransmers appears to play a role, the essential oil and its main components exert affinity for the glutamate NMDA-receptor in a dose-dependent manner and also bind to the serotonin transporter. After 8 weeks of administering the essential oil, a reduced binding potential at the 5HT1A receptor in the hippocampus and the anterior cingulate cortex has been observed


It affects autonomic neurotransmission and reduces the stress response in the CNS. In one study the concentration of oxytocin in serum, 2-3 days after the treatment was upregulated with effects on improved neurogenesis and dendritic complexity [7]. It also acts on microglial populations with anti-inflammatory actions


"...stress-altered genes involved in synaptic transmission via GABA, dopamine, acetylcholine, and glutamate may potentially
recover to normal levels due to a reduction in stress in response to linalool inhalation".


It was capable of reversing stress-induced social aversion in animal models, acting as an antidepressant agent [8].

Application of 10% lavender in humans activated the primary olfactory cortex, entorhinal cortex, hippocampus and parahippocampal cortex, thalamus, hypothalamus, orbitofrontal cortex, and insular cortex and its extension into the inferior lateral frontal region


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11994882
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21178380
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26295793
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28411275
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23573142
[6] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181023085648.htm
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30825591
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30347669


Tried things like Lemon and Rosemary as a stimulating option


Terpenes seem to work as a symphony with seemingly synergistic effects to me when you really inhale a good stream of them. A bit of a linalool oil is good but... it's better with a bit of limonene in there... even better with α-pinene rich oils etc


The polytherapeutic effects of natural compounds are a "are a real alternative for nervous system therapy" [1]


Rosemary essential oil is a "powerful tool in helping to clear the mind and for increasing mental awareness. It has also been shown to possess excellent brain-stimulating properties as well as an aid for memory improvement". It made humans more attentive, more alert, vigorous and cheerful [2] and people "felt fresher, became more active, and less drowsy after exposure to the rosemary oil". It also produces a significant enhancement in memory performance and mood [3. 4].


Inhaling lemon essential oil causes antidepressant and anti-stress effects through modulating monoamines and significantly enhanced attention level, concentration, cognitive performance, mood, and memory during the learning process [5]


The chemistry:


α-Pinene and 1,8-cineole generally dominate the Rosemary essential oil compositions, but camphor, verbenone, camphene, and myrcene may also appear in high concentrations [6]




α-pinene [(+)-α-Pinene was the predominant enantiomer] and 1,8-cineole are potent therapeutics.

Performance on cognitive tasks is significantly related to concentration of absorbed 1,8-cineole following exposure to rosemary aroma, with improved performance at higher concentrations [7]


1,8-cineole offers NMDA antagonism, with a weaker AChE inhibitory effect [8] and psychostimulatory effects, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects [9] α-Pinene brings along effects on learning and memory [10] with anti-stress effects, also modulating NGF and dopamine [11]


Monoterpenes such as α-pinene and 1,8-cineole exert neuroprotective effects by regulating gene expression and α-pinene was observed to initiate soothing physiological and behavioural responses with a significant impact on physiological and psychological relaxation [12].


Citrus oils have their pharmacology well sumarised in [5]


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30378477
[2] https://www.mdpi.com/2218-0532/77/2/375
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3700080/
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12690999
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29976894
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5368539/
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23983963
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28088901
[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27771935
[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29234406
[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29273038
[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5402865/


Spanish sage:

Spanish sage is proposed to be an "excellent essential oil to diffuse when concentrating" and "For soothing anxiety, tension and stress"

Salvia lavandulaefolia aroma inhalation produced a significant enhancement effect for memory [1] and orally at 50 µL of the essential oil, improvement in mood and cognition was observed [2]


- therapeutic effect for cognitive disorders attributed to its anti-cholinesterase, estrogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties
- potential natural antioxidant activity to prevent oxidative stress accompanying degenerative diseases


Enjoying a blend of Spanish Sage, Lavender and Lemon (all on the "blends well with..." list on one site) like the Rosemary blends, similarly to which it brings along 1,8-cineole and α-pinene. 


I also notice that having scent as an enriching environmental stimulus stops the desire to generally snack on anything and there is a role for scent in modulating blood glucose [3]


[1] http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/aces.2014.43037
[2] https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881110385594
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5820856/


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Aromatherapy vs oral oils


Orally essential oils seem to be reliant on pharmacological effect but aromatherapy seems to be more overlapped with socio-emotional states of consciousness and a way to ingrain some mindfulness: Olfaction is intimately related to social communication and emotions


Scent playlists have been proposed


It's like a very gentle, non-threatening catalyst for stuck and stagnant negative thought patterns and emotions. The longer you sit with the fragrant stream aligning your body-mind-spirit, the more there is a gentle unwinding of rigid patterns, deeper embrace of yourself and a gentle positive merger with the world around you


It gives you:
- a sense of control over your environment - you choose what's diffusing - even when you feel life's out of control. A safe "grounding" base
- a sense of connection: to the moment and to the world around you. Deepens your connection to yourself (and nature) - ingrains simple breathing as a positive mindful experience/makes you more aware of it, attunes you to deeper layers of yourself -particularly emotions - and to a connection in the world beyond you - a spiritual element
- environmental enrichment with ability to tap into socio-emotional-spiritual aspects
- ability to shift the valence of the emotional landscape to more positive experiences along with emotional exploration and reminiscence. Ability to shift thoughts in line with the emotions
- As studies have noted, nocturnal olfactory stimulation leads to better sleep quality and a higher level of vigor in the morning


"Odour can colour perceptions about the world both positively or negatively through emotion processes and thus can modulate mood and behaviour"


Effects of inhaled essential oils cannot be explained by pharmacological mechanisms alone. "Olfaction is intimately linked to emotional processes, sharing some same neural bases and thus constitutes a valuable emotion-inducer" [1]. Expectancies play an important role in the subjective effects of inhaled EOs [2].


Odour pleasantness selectively shifts human attention in the surrounding space [3] and modulates the hedonic value of rewards [4]


In monotonous situations it improved mood and other measures [5] Odours that evoke positive autobiographical memories being able to increase positive emotions, decrease negative mood states, disrupt cravings, and reduce physiological indices of stress, including systemic markers of inflammation [6]


Odour may serve as a powerful cue for the recovery of autobiographical memories, inducing subjective reliving and more positive memories after odour exposure [7] producing a number of and more specific memories after odour exposure than without odour [8].


Beneficial effects of same nature to odour and music exposure were observed for autobiographical characteristics (i.e., specificity, emotional experience, and mental time travel) [9]


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27633559
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25183507
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28872341
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25543090
[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27633559
[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27447673
[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31185649
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30890017
[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29040475

Edited by Alchemica
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Also experimented with dermal administration, sure you smell floral but does it work well?


In depression "aromatherapy massage showed to have more beneficial effects than inhalation aromatherapy." [1] and it is suggested to apply aromatherapy massage treatment once or twice per week.


For aromatherapy massage, 1–5% essential oil is used


"Application of aromatherapy on both hands in addition to the effect of inhalation aromatherapy showed a significant improvement in depressive symptoms which was superior to the improvement observed when using inhalation aromatherapy"


Terpenes possess good transdermal permeation and are readily absorbed due to their liphophilic nature


Application to the skin resulted in a fast increase of plasma levels, with maximal plasma levels in 10 min for things like cineole and pinene


Cutaneous application of lavender essential oil allowed the penetration of the active molecules especially linalool and linalyl acetate by inhalation and transdermally. The lipophilicity of aromatic compounds facilitates the transfer from blood to brain


Pharmacokinetics of linalool in plasma displayed a peak 20 min after lavender essential oil application, this period corresponds to the main behavioural infuence on lavender essential oil


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5241490/


Pharmacokinetics of linalool content in human plasma after the application of 1 g of lavender essential oil (2%) in oil.


The dermal administration mode of 1,8-cineole or linalool has a major influence on CNS activity: There was significant activation after dermal application, whereas after inhalation no such changes were detected in one study. 

In an earlier study, dermal 1,8-cineole in comparison to linalool and a placebo enhanced cognitive performance in a sustained attention task as well as physiological arousal, particularly respiration rate, but did not alter affective state. In another study, performance on cognitive tasks was significantly related to concentration of absorbed 1,8-cineole following exposure to rosemary aroma

There was a significant performance enhancing effect of dermal linalool, particularly in males with activation of subcortical limbic brain areas and increased activity of the DMN suggesting a relaxing effect. Linalool enhanced cognitive performance by inducing a more relaxed state. 

After dermal 1,8-cineole, significant functional activation of the frontal cortex was noted which has been reported frequently during tasks requiring attention. 1,8-cineole possesses a stimulating effect after dermal application. [1]

[1] http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ffj.3436



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Commission E. recommends 1 to 2 teaspoons of herb per cup of water or 1 to 4 drops (approximately 20 to 80 mg) of lavender essential oil.

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Nothing better than lavender oil for a deep sleep! I prefer transdermal application, 3-5 drops rubbed into the upper thigh before bed and I'm out cold. Can wake up a bit groggy though from sleeping too deep ahaha

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