To complement the Research Reports in the July 2014 issue of MASSAGE Magazine. Summary: Inhaling lavender essential oil for 10 minutes resulted in a significant improvement in parasympathetic nervous system activity
Inhaling lavender essential oil for 10 minutes resulted in a significant improvement in parasympathetic nervous system activity among women with mild to moderate premenstrual symptoms and significantly decreased two common premenstrual symptoms, depression-dejection and confusion, according to recent research.
The study, “Does lavender aromatherapy alleviate premenstrual emotional symptoms? A randomized crossover trial,” involved 17 women around the age of 20 with mild to moderate subjective premenstrual symptoms.
During the late-luteal phase, or about seven days before menstruation, each subject underwent a session of lavender aromatherapy and a separate control session using water. The intervention and control sessions took place two to three days apart.
Before the start of each session, electrocardiograph (ECG) electrodes were placed on the subjects, and they were instructed to relax for 10 minutes in a seated position. Next, the women filled out the Profile of Mood States to assess their current premenstrual symptoms. The questionnaire asks subjects to rate the severity of six emotional states: tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, vigor, fatigue and confusion.
Once this questionnaire had been filled out, ECG was recorded for five minutes, and then the intervention began. For each session, either lavender essential oil or water was placed on a small cotton pad designed for use within a diffuser. The diffuser was placed near each woman’s nostrils, and the subjects were instructed to inhale for a total of 10 minutes.
After inhaling either the lavender essential oil or the water, ECG was measured for five minutes immediately after the inhalation and again 10, 20 and 30 minutes after the inhalation. When ECG recording was complete, the women once again filled out the Profile of Mood States questionnaire.
Results of the research revealed a significant improvement in parasympathetic nervous system activity, as indicated by ECG recordings, with the inhalation of lavender essential oil. No such changes took place with the control session. The study also showed that the lavender aromatherapy led to a significant decrease in both depression-dejection and confusion for as long as 35 minutes after the session took place.
“This study indicates that short-term inhalation of lavender could alleviate premenstrual emotional symptoms and could, at least in part, contribute to the improvement of parasympathetic nervous system activity,” state the study’s authors.
Authors: Tamaki Matsumoto, Hiroyuki Asakura and Tatsuya Hayashi.
Sources: Department of Health Education, Faculty of Education, Shitennoji University, Osaka, Japan; Ohgimachi Ladies Clinic, Center for Advanced Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility, Osaka, Japan; and Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan. Originally published in May 2013 in BioPsychoSocial Medicine, 7(12).