Anosmia does not impair the anxiolytic-like effect of lavender essential oil inhalation in mice

Life Sci. 2013 May 30;92(20-21):971-5. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2013.03.012. Epub 2013 Apr 6.


Aim: The inhalation of Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) essential oil has anxiolytic-like effects in animal models and humans, but its mechanism of action is still not fully understood. The inhalation of essential oils can induce anxiolytic effects through the central nervous system (e.g., lung absorption and bloodstream transport) or stimulation of the olfactory system and secondary activation of brain regions. Thus, the main objective of the present study was to evaluate whether the perception of lavender essential oil aroma, when inhaled, is necessary to obtain its anxiolytic-like effects in mice tested in the marble-burying test.

Main methods: Anosmia was induced by irrigating the nasal cavity with zinc gluconate+zinc acetate so that the mice could not detect odors in the olfactory discrimination test. The marble-burying test was used to evaluate the anxiolytic-like effects of inhaled lavender essential oil.

Key findings: Anosmia did not interfere with the anxiolytic-like effect of lavender essential oil inhalation in the marble-burying test at concentrations of 2.5% (number of marbles buried: vehicle, 4.7±1.0; zinc, 6.2±2.2; p>0.10) and 5% (number of marbles buried: vehicle, 3.4±0.8; zinc, 4.3±0.9; p>0.10). Lavender essential oil at a concentration of 0.5% was ineffective.

Significance: These results suggest that olfactory system activation is unlikely to participate in the anxiolytic-like effect of lavender essential oil inhalation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Diazepam / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Oils, Volatile / administration & dosage
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Olfaction Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • Diazepam
  • lavender oil