Autonomic nervous function and localization of cerebral activity during lavender aromatic immersion

Technol Health Care. 2007;15(2):69-78.


Changes in the autonomic nervous activity can be induced by various sensory and emotional stimuli. The authors examined whether the power spectral analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) could detect changes in autonomic tone following a lavender aroma treatment or not. Healthy young women (n=10, 23+/-3 years old) underwent continuous electrocardiographic (ECG) monitoring before and after (10, 20, 30 minutes) the lavender fragrance stimuli. HRV was expressed by three indices: low (0.04-0.15 Hz) and high (0.15-0.40 Hz) frequency components (nLF and nHF, respectively) as well as LF/HF ratio. Increases in the parasympathetic tone were observed after the lavender fragrance stimulus as seen as increases in the HF component and decreases in the LF/HF. Additional measurement with positron emission tomography (PET) demonstrated the regional metabolic activation in the orbitofrontal, posterior cingulate gyrus, brainstem, thalamus and cerebellum, as well as the reductions in the pre/post-central gyrus and frontal eye field. These results suggested that lavender aromatic treatment induced not only relaxation but also increased arousal level in these subjects.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aromatherapy*
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Electrocardiography
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lavandula*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography