Effect of olfactory stimulation by fresh rose flowers on autonomic nervous activity

J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Sep;20(9):727-31. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0029. Epub 2014 Jul 23.


Objective: To clarify the effect of olfactory stimulation by fresh rose flowers, which exude a strong fragrance, on heart rate variability.

Settings: A chamber with an artificial climate maintained at 25°C with 50% relative humidity and 230 lux illumination at the Center for Environment, Health, and Field Sciences, Chiba University, Japan.

Participants: Nineteen female university and graduate students (mean age, 21.6±1.5 years; age range, 19.0-26.0 years).

Interventions: Fresh rose flowers as an olfactory stimulant, with air as a control.

Outcome measures: Heart rate variability and subjective evaluations. The power levels of the high-frequency (HF) (0.15-0.40 Hz) and low-frequency (LF) (0.04-0.15 Hz) components of heart rate variability were calculated by the maximum-entropy method. The HF power was considered to reflect parasympathetic nervous activity. The LF/HF power ratio was determined to reflect the sympathetic nervous activity. A modified semantic differential method was used to perform subjective evaluations.

Results: Fresh rose flowers induced (1) a significant increase in parasympathetic nervous activities and (2) an increase in "comfortable" and "natural" feelings.

Conclusion: The findings indicated that olfactory stimulation by fresh rose flowers induced physiological and psychological relaxation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aromatherapy
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Flowers* / chemistry
  • Heart Rate*
  • Humans
  • Inhalation
  • Odorants* / analysis
  • Oils, Volatile / analysis
  • Parasympathetic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Relaxation
  • Rosa* / chemistry
  • Smell*
  • Young Adult


  • Oils, Volatile