From essentials oils to candles to bath products, lavender’s soothing qualities have become a fixture in the a variety of stress-zapping wellness products. However, some people aren’t convinced that the violet-colored flower can actually help promote calm. Well, here’s some scientific evidence for all you non-believers: According to a new study done on mice, the aroma of lavender can actually provide stress relief.
“Many people take the effects of ‘odor’ with a grain of salt,” study author Hideki Kashiwadani, a physiologist and neuroscientist at Kagoshima University in Japan, said in an email to the New York Times. “But among the stories, some are true based on science.”
In the study, which was published on October 23 in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, scientists enlisted the help of several mice with healthy noses. They had each mouse inhale linalool—a naturally occurring alcohol in lavender that gives the flower its unique scent. They compared them with mice injected with linalool and those on benzodiazepines. What the scientists found was that the scent alone—not its absorption into the blood—had a seriously relaxing effect on the mice’s brain.
Kashiwadani says that linalool’s calming effect is the result of the activation of specific neurotransmitter receptors in the brain via the specialized sensory cells called olfactory neurons. The most amazing thing about it is scientists found that inhaling lavender had a similar effect on the brain as taking benzodiazepines such as Valium. While this type of drugs can cause dizziness or light headedness, mice that inhaled lavender suffered no side effects.
While more studies need to be conducted (ideally on humans), he believes that lavender will be used clinically in the near future. For example, it can be used before surgery to help alleviate preoperative stress. Until that time comes, there’s no reason not to infuse a little lavender into your life.
Here are a few easy ways to do it:
Invest in essential oil
Lavender essential oil is budget-friendly and just a dab on your wrist can keep you in relaxation mode all day long. You can also use an essential oil diffuser to infuse the scent throughout your home.
Add it to your bath
Lavender oil, salts or bubble bath are an easy way to add a little relaxation to your bath time routine.
Try a lavender-infused cleaning product
There are lots of cleaning products that incorporate lavender into their scent. Mrs. Meyers has an entire collection of lavender-infused household cleaners, ranging from multi-purpose cleaners to laundry detergent.
Hang a fragrant wreath
Infuse some relaxation and a dash of color into your home life by hanging a lavender flower wreath on your bedroom door.
Make lavender lemonade or tea
Prepare a lavender syrup by heating lavender buds and sugar together in a small saucepan. Allow the sugar to dissolve and form into a syrup. Remove it from the heat. Using a sieve, filter out the lavender buds. Add a tablespoon of the lavender syrup to your iced tea with some fresh lemon for a cooling and relaxing beverage. You can also brew some lavender tea by brewing lavender buds in a sachet or tea ball. Just make sure to inhale before every sip!
Stash lavender sachets everywhere
Lavender sachets–bags filled with lavender leaves—are easy to make and inexpensive. Put them next to your bed, in your underwear drawers or even in your purse, and enjoy the relaxing benefits of linalool wherever you are.