Research Says Inhaling Essential Oils Will Reduce Stress!


Researchers Note That Rose Essential Oil Has Anti-Stress Effects!

Science is validating that ‘aroma’-therapy can significantly reduce cortisol levels in humans through simple inhalation of essential oils!

At the end of this post is the abstract of an important study which concludes that inhalation of Rose essential oil or ‘Rose Otto‘ can limit commonly-researched markers of stress.

Cortisol Reduced by Rose Otto

Cortisol is a hormone produced by our adrenal glands when we’re under stress. It is easily measured through analysis of a saliva sample, as was done in this research, before and after inhalation of Rose essential oil.

(NOTE that we’re currently sending a free bottle of Rose Attar – a natural perfume including Rose and Sandalwood oils with every order over $79…see how to redeem this here!)

As noted in the study’s conclusion: “Inhalation of rose essential oil significantly inhibited…the increase in the salivary concentration of cortisol in humans.” A second marker of stress was also reduced by the inhalation of the oil.

Lavender Flowers, Source of Aromatherapy's Primary Stress Reliever: Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender Flowers: Source of Lavender Essential Oil - Aromatherapy's Number One Stress Reliever.

So What About Other Essential Oils, and Application Methods?


Many essential oils are noted across the aromatherapy AND scientific literature to lower stress levels as well. Particularly Lavender, Chamomile, Sandalwood and many others.

Further, there are several studies that proclaim that simply having the oils within the bloodstream. One study had noted that Sandalwood need not be inhaled for sleep improvement – simply having the oils in the bloodstream seems to produce the result. The oil was not inhaled, but ingested in this case. (1)

A series of studies performed in Germany demonstrated that a capsule containing 2 drops of Lavender essential oil ingested daily had as significant an impact in reducing stress as benzodiazapine drugs. (2)

The ‘take home message’ is that the simple aromas of essential oils can measurable effects in stress reduction. And not just Rose Otto essential oil…Lavender, Sandalwood, Mandarin, Bergamot, and a host of other ‘relaxing’ aromatics are very likely to do the same.

Here’s the abstract of the research regarding the lowering of stress by inhalation of Rose Essential Oil:

Effect of “Rose Essential Oil” Inhalation on Stress-Induced Skin-Barrier Disruption in Rats and Humans.
From: Chem Senses. 2011 Dec 13., by Fukada M, Kano E, Miyoshi M, Komaki R, Watanabe T. Division of Integrative Physiology, Department of Functional, Morphological and Regulatory Science, Tottori University Faculty of MedicineTottori 683-8503, Japan.

In stressed animals, several brain regions  exhibit neuronal activation, which increases plasma adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and glucocorticoids. Here, we investigated whether rose essential oil inhibits the stress-induced 1) increases in PVN neuronal activity in rats and plasma glucocorticoids (corticosterone [CORT] in rats and cortisol in humans) and 2) skin-barrier disruption in rats and humans. The results showed that in rats subjected to acute restraint stress, rose essential oil inhalation significantly inhibited the increase in plasma CORT and reduced the increases in the number of c-Fos-positive cells in PVN. Inhalation of rose essential oil significantly inhibited the following effects of chronic stress: 1) the elevation of transepidermal water loss (TEWL), an index of the disruption of skin-barrier function, in both rats and humans and 2) the increase in the salivary concentration of cortisol in humans. These results suggest that in rats and humans, chronic stress-induced disruption of the skin barrier can be limited or prevented by rose essential oil inhalation, possibly through its inhibitory effect on the HPA axis.

(1) Nihon Shinkei Seishin Yakurigaku Zasshi. 2007 Aug;27(4):167-71.[Effect of santalol on the sleep-wake cycle in sleep-disturbed rats].[Article in Japanese]Ohmori A, Shinomiya K, Utsu Y, Tokunaga S, Hasegawa Y, Kamei C.

(2) Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2010 Sep;25(5):277-87. Silexan, an orally administered Lavandula oil preparation, is effective in the treatment of ‘subsyndromal’ anxiety disorder: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial.Kasper S, Gastpar M, Müller WE, Volz HP, Möller HJ, Dienel A, Schläfke S.

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5 Responses to Research Says Inhaling Essential Oils Will Reduce Stress!

  1. Pam says:

    Are you advocating ingesting essential oils …. ??? Crazy..!!!!

    • Eric@Ananda says:

      Hi Pam…we’re not really advocating or not advocating ingestion of essential oils – we’re just presenting the facts: that sound scientific research has been done with the ingestion of many essential oils. In particular, a pharmaceutical company has done several trials with their Lavender essential oil capsule.

      You’ll find both Peppermint essential oil and Oregano essential oil capsules for sale at most health food stores. MOST essential oils are listed by the FDA as ‘recognized as safe’ for ingestion…typically as food flavorings.

      The ‘French’ aromatherapy method (as opposed to the English and/or German) specifically uses the ingestion of essential oils – which, until recently, one would go to a therapist to have their ailment diagnosed and receive a prescription.

      Truly, the important thing to note is that such protocols use very small amounts of essential oils. For example, one-to-three drops of an oil taken three times daily…AND, ONLY as long as needed to return to health.

      The bottom line is that education is most important. We don’t describe ingestion protocols on our site, yet this is, in fact, a common method of use. However, we recommend this only be done with the direction of a health care practitioner experienced in the field.

  2. vicki says:

    I have to agree with Pam. I realize that in European countries medical doctors actually use essential oil ingestion for their patients but that is a big difference than someone without a license say that it is safe. Essential oils are strong and highly concentrated. Plus who knows what long term damage is being done. Testing on rats is not the same as human beings. How long did these tested rats live to see if there were any consequences? It has already been established that inhalation is the safest and FASTEST way for oils to work. All I know is I would not want to be responsible for telling someone they could ingest 1-3 oils a day 3 times a day in no carrier oil. That is 9 drops a day if using the max dosage! What about if someone that takes that advice has an allergy? As for me, better safe than sorry. – See more at:

    • Eric@Ananda says:

      Hi Vicki,

      Thanks for your note. Again, we’re truly not prescribing or advocating one way or the other about ingestion of essential oils. The article IS about inhalation. We’re not suggesting anyone ingest anything – we’re simply putting the truth out there that 1) It IS a common practice – and not only in other countries, but the US as well. Other essential oil companies DO have some of their essential oils labeled as supplements…for example Lavender and Lemon. 2) The ingestion of 2 drops of Lavender per day has been THOROUGHLY researched by a German pharmaceutical firm, with long-term human studies, with no side effects. 3) The example of 9 drops per day was just an example…some protocols are higher – 5 drops of Lemon essential oil in your water one or more times per day is a commonly-suggested method of supporting liver function by Naturopaths. At the same time, ONE drop of Carrot Seed essential oil per day, also for the liver support, is a common recommendation found in Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt’s books – the leading ‘medical’ aromatherapist in the USA.

      Regarding an allergic reaction, such reactions to essential oils are rare – virtually unknown. One would know simply by inhaling the oil, and certainly by topically applying (hence, our reason for, on most EO pages, to note to try putting a drop on your skin and waiting a day to see if you have any reaction). YES, WE DO AGREE: Better safe than sorry, and at the same time, there ARE health conditions that could TRULY BE HELPED by getting a significant quantity of one or more essential oils in the blood. And whether you are inhaling, topically-applying, or ingesting the oils, the oils are making it into your bloodstream. (I’ve personally used so much Helichrysum at a time, after a sever accident, that I could taste it in my mouth…but I’d been applying it to the back of my neck).

      So please understand what we’re saying: Again, the post was about inhalation, and the calming action of essential oils. We’d simply referred to a studies that noted this calming action to occur when the oils in the bloodstream of subjects through means other than inhalation where this calming action occurred. We hadn’t said to do this yourself. However, Peppermint Oil, Oregano Oil, and now Lavender Oil are available as supplements, which are ingested. We’re truly not saying: go blindly medicate yourself with essential oils. We DO want people to know this – there ARE safe, tried and true protocols for ingestion of essential oils for certain illnesses. Within the context of this discussion, we’d simply like to open people’s minds to the ways in which essential oils are used therapeutically – and each time we’ve mentioned this, we’ve ALWAYS said: Should you feel your condition warrants the potential use of essential oils this way, FIND A PROFESSIONAL who is versed in EO use in every manner to support your therapy. DON’T simply take it upon yourself to start ingesting oils.

      AND FINALLY: Thank you all for contributing to this discussion! All points of view are important and welcome :)

  3. Pamela says:

    Have read all of the preceding, and I just want to say that I very much appreciate all the time and effort Eric has gone to to clarify Ananda’s position. Stories are starting to surface of, for example, somebody’s brain tumour disappearing after ingestion of essential oils (prescribed by a doctor). Time to start thinking outside The Box. The Garden is sooo much prettier, not to mention bigger. And REAL.

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