A Pilot Study on the Physiological Effects of Three Essential Oils in Humans

Nat Prod Commun. 2016 Oct;11(10):1561-1564.


In the present study, the physiological effects on 32 humans exposed to experimental stress provoked by inhalation of the essential oils of East Indian sandalwood (Santalum album L.), Western Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum R.Br.) and lavender (Lavandula angustifolia MILL.) were investigated. During individual testing sessions, several saliva samples were collected, blood pressure was regularly measured and parameters of the autonomic nervous system (heart rate, skin conductance response) were continuously monitored. Salivary cortisol, as an endocrine stress indicator, was determined by time- resolved fluoroimmunoassay. Statistical analyses evidenced that the tested sandalwood essential oils significantly reduced systolic blood pressure, especially during the recreation phase. This finding corresponds with a distinct reduction of salivary cortisol levels during recreation in the Western Australian sandalwood oil compared with the control. In conclusion, the results demonstrate that essential oils can alleviate the physiological reactions to psychological stress and facilitate recovery after exposition to stress.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Autonomic Nervous System / drug effects
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response / drug effects
  • Heart Rate / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis
  • Lavandula
  • Male
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use
  • Pilot Projects
  • Plant Oils
  • Saliva / chemistry
  • Santalum / chemistry*
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Stress, Psychological / drug therapy
  • Stress, Psychological / metabolism
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Western Australia
  • Young Adult


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Hydrocortisone
  • sandalwood oil