Anxiety (Panic)/DepressionAromatherapyLavender

The role of expectation on the response to lavender aromatherapy

Different theories attempt to explain the relaxation response to lavender aromatherapy.

This study suggests there’s another reason.

Potential lavender relaxation mechanisms include?

  • Stimulation of pleasure centers in the brain
  • Direct effects on hormones or enzymes
  • Stimulation of the adrenal glands

First, the details of the study.

  • 96 healthy women were given instruction and then exposed to lavender, placebo, or no aroma after an arousing cognitive (intellectual) task.
  • The instruction covered the aroma’s likely impact on their ability to relax.

And, the results.

  • The content of the instruction was associated with relaxation patterns.
  • When expecting the aroma to inhibit them, participants relaxed more.
  • When expecting facilitation, participants relaxed less.
  • The effect was not related to self-reported relaxation (as represented by changes in anxiety) and was independent of the attitude towards aromatherapy.

The bottom line
Based on these results it appears that the association of lavender aroma with relaxation might be influenced by expectations, and these expectations are easily manipulated.

It causes one to reassess the findings of earlier studies here and here.

9/12/ 22:19 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.