Effects of fragrance inhalation on sympathetic activity in normal adults

Jpn J Pharmacol. 2002 Nov;90(3):247-53. doi: 10.1254/jjp.90.247.


We investigated the effects of fragrance inhalation on sympathetic activity in normal adult subjects using both power spectral analysis of blood pressure fluctuations and measurement of plasma catecholamine levels. Fragrance inhalation of essential oils, such as pepper oil, estragon oil, fennel oil or grapefruit oil, resulted in 1.5- to 2.5-fold increase in relative sympathetic activity, representing low frequency amplitude of systolic blood pressure (SBP-LF amplitude), compared with inhalation of an odorless solvent, triethyl citrate (P<0.05, each). In contrast, fragrance inhalation of rose oil or patchouli oil caused a 40% decrease in relative sympathetic activity (P<0.01, each). Fragrance inhalation of pepper oil induced a 1.7-fold increase in plasma adrenaline concentration compared with the resting state (P = 0.06), while fragrance inhalation of rose oil caused a 30% decrease in adrenaline concentration (P<0.01). Our results indicate that fragrance inhalation of essential oils may modulate sympathetic activity in normal adults.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Adult
  • Artemisia / chemistry
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Catecholamines / blood
  • Citrus paradisi / chemistry
  • Female
  • Foeniculum / chemistry
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Humans
  • Odorants*
  • Oils, Volatile / administration & dosage
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Phytotherapy
  • Piper nigrum / chemistry
  • Rosa / chemistry
  • Smell / physiology
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology
  • Time Factors


  • Catecholamines
  • Oils, Volatile