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Sedative action of lavender oil.

Linck V, da Silva, A, Figueiro M, Piato A, Herrmann A, Birck F et al. 2008. Inhaled linalool-induced sedation in mice. Phytomed article in press available at (TF).

Aromatherapy is an age old modality dating back beyond its modern use to the ancient Egyptians. It has been used successfully to treat conditions ranging from depression and anxiety to chronic pain, although clinical research into the field is limited. Linalool is a monoterpene essential oil found in a number of herbs, including Lavandula spp, Melissa officinalis and Rosmarinus officinalis, many of which are traditional sedatives. Mouse models of psychopharmacological evaluation have demonstrated its marked sedative and central anticonvulsant effects. The monoterpene appears to exert is action via competitive antagonism at certain glutamate binding sites in the brain, inhibiting the neurotransmitter excitatory action.

This study was designed to evaluate supposed psychopharmacological activity and more specifically the alleged sedative action of inhaled lavender essential oil. Male albino mice were enclosed in a sealed cylindrical inhalation chamber which was atmospherically saturated with 1% or 3% linalool over a period of 60 minutes. Directly post inhalation they were assessed on various measures including body temperature, locomotor function, motor co-ordination (via the rota rod test) and barbital induced sleeping time.

Both groups displayed increased sleeping time and lowered body temperature. While neither group experienced any disruption in motor co-ordination, the mice exposed to 3% linalool demonstrated decreased spontaneous locomotion.

Inhaled linalool over a one hour period may provide a viable alternative to many psycholeptic drugs, as it induces sedation without the adverse effect of reduced motor capacity.
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Publication:Australian Journal of Medical Herbalism
Date:Dec 22, 2008
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