Relaxation effects of lavender aromatherapy improve coronary flow velocity reserve in healthy men evaluated by transthoracic Doppler echocardiography



      It has been reported that mental stress is an independent risk factor for cardiovascular events and impairs coronary circulation. Lavender aromatherapy, one of the most popular complementary treatments, is recognized as a beneficial mental relaxation therapy. However, no study has examined the effect of this therapy on coronary circulation. We aimed to assess the effect of lavender aromatherapy on coronary circulation by measuring coronary flow velocity reserve (CFVR) with noninvasive transthoracic Doppler echocardiography (TTDE).

      Material and methods

      We enrolled 30 young healthy men (mean age 34±4.7 years, range 24–40 years). Coronary flow velocities in the left anterior descending coronary artery were recorded by TTDE at rest and during hyperemia induced with an intravenous infusion of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). CFVR was calculated as the ratio of hyperemic to basal mean diastolic flow velocity. CFVR was assessed at baseline and immediately after lavender aromatherapy (four drops of essential oil diluted with 20 ml of hot water and inhaled for 30 min). Simultaneously, serum cortisol was measured as a marker of stress hormones. To exclude the relaxation effects of rest, the same measurements were repeated in the same volunteers without aromatherapy as a control study.


      CFVR measurements were obtained in all volunteers (100%). Blood pressure and heart rate responses to ATP infusion were not affected by lavender aromatherapy. Serum cortisol significantly decreased after lavender aromatherapy (8.4±3.6 to 6.3±3.3, p<0.05), but remained unchanged in controls (9.1±3.5 to 8.1±3.9, p=ns). In addition, CFVR significantly increased after lavender aromatherapy (3.8±0.87 to 4.7±0.90, p<0.001), but not in controls (3.9±0.8 to 3.9±0.8, p=ns).


      Lavender aromatherapy reduced serum cortisol and improved CFVR in healthy men. These findings suggest that lavender aromatherapy has relaxation effects and may have beneficial acute effects on coronary circulation.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to International Journal of Cardiology
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Parejo I.
        • Viladomat F.
        • Bastida J.
        • et al.
        Comparison between the radical scavenging activity and antioxidant activity of six distilled and nondistilled Mediterranean herbs and aromatic plants.
        J Agric Food Chem. 2002; 50: 6882-6890
        • Ferreira A.
        • Proenca C.
        • Serralheiro M.L.
        • Araujo M.E.
        The in vitro screening for acetylcholinesterase inhibition and antioxidant activity of medical plants from Portugal.
        J Ethnopharmacol. 2006; 108: 31-37
        • Hasegawa R.
        • Daimon M.
        • Toyoda T.
        • Teramoto K.
        • Sekine T.
        • Komuro I.
        Effect of mental stress on coronary flow velocity reserve in healthy men.
        Am J Cardiol. 2005; 96: 137-140
        • Yoshida K.
        • Utsunomiya T.
        • Morooka T.
        • et al.
        Mental stress test is an effective inducer of vasospastic angina pectoris: comparison with cold pressor, hyperventilation and master two-step exercise test.
        Int J Cardiol. 1999; 70: 155-163
        • Blumenthal J.A.
        • Jang W.
        • Morris J.J.
        Stress management and exercise training in cardiac patients with myocardial ischemia.
        Arch Intern Med. 1997; 157: 2213-2223
        • Hirata K.
        • Amudha K.
        • Elina R.
        • Hozumi T.
        • Yoshikawa J.
        • Homma S.
        • et al.
        Measurement of coronary vasomotor function: getting to the heart of the matter in cardiovascular research.
        Clin Sci (London). 2004; 107: 449-460
        • Fusejima K.
        Noninvasive measurement of coronary artery blood flow using combined two-dimensional and Doppler echocardiography.
        J Am Coll Cardiol. 1987; 10: 1024-1031
        • Kenny A.
        • Wisbey C.R.
        • Shapiro L.M.
        Measurement of left anterior descending coronary artery flow velocities by transthoracic Doppler ultrasound.
        Am J Cardiol. 1994; 73: 1021-1022
        • Daimon M.
        • Watanabe H.
        • Yamagishi H.
        • et al.
        Physiologic assessment of coronary artery stenosis by coronary flow reserve measurements with transthoracic Doppler echocardiography: comparison with exercise thallium-201 single-photon emission computed tomography.
        J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001; 37: 1310-1315
        • Hirata K.
        • Shimada K.
        • Watanabe H.
        • et al.
        Modulation of coronary flow velocity reserve by gender, menstrual cycle and hormone replacement therapy.
        J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001; 38: 1879-1884
        • Lehtner J.
        • Eckersberger C.
        • Walla P.
        • Postsch G.
        • Deecke L.
        Ambient odor of orange in a dental office reduces anxiety and improves mood in female patients.
        Physiol Behav. 2000; 71: 83-86
        • Komori T.
        • Fujisawa R.
        • Tanida M.
        • Nomura J.
        • Yokoyama M.M.
        Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states.
        Neuropsychopharmacol. 1995; 5: 477-480
        • Cooke B.
        • Ernst E.
        Aromatherapy: a systemic review.
        Br. J. Gen. Pract. 2000; 50: 493-496
        • Vickers A.
        • Zollman C.
        ABC of complementary medicine: massage therapies.
        BMJ. 1999; 319: 1254-1257
        • Buchbauer G.
        • Jirovetz L.
        • Jager W.
        • Dietrich H.
        • Plank C.
        Aromatherapy: evidence for sedative effects of the essential oil of lavender after inhalation.
        J Biosci. 1991; 46: 1067-1072
        • Desmarchelier C.
        • Ciccia G.
        • Coussio J.
        Recent advances in the search for antioxidant activity in South American plants.
        Stud Nat Prod Chem. 2000; 22: 343-367
        • Cos P.
        • Calomme M.
        • Pieters L.
        • Vlietinck J.
        • Vanden D.
        Structure–activity relationship of flavonoids as antioxidant and pro-oxidant compounds.
        Stud Nat Prod Chem. 2000; 22: 307-341
        • Gilani A.H.
        • Aziz N.
        • Khan M.A.
        • et al.
        Ethnopharmacological evaluation of anticonvulsant, sedative and antispasmodic activities of Lavandula stoechas L.
        J Ethnopharmacol. 2001; 49: 161-167
        • Kähkönen M.P.
        • Hopia A.I.
        • Heinonen M.
        Berry phenolics and their antioxidant activity.
        J Agric Food Chem. 2001; 49: 4076-4082
        • Koto R.
        • Imamura M.
        • Watanabe C.
        • et al.
        Linalyl acetate as a major ingredient of lavender essential oil relaxes the rabbit vascular smooth muscle through dephosphorylation of myosin light chain.
        J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2006; 48: 850-856
        • Hwang J.H.
        The effects of the inhalation methods using essential oils on blood pressure and stress responses of clients with essential hypertension.
        Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi. 2006; 36: 1123-1134
        • Takai N.
        • Yamaguchi M.
        • Aragaki T.
        • Eto K.
        • Uchihashi K.
        • Nishikawa Y.
        Effect of psychological stress on the salivary cortisol and amylase levels in healthy young adults.
        Arch Oral Biol. 2004; 49: 963-968
        • Atsumi T.
        • Tonosaki K.
        Smelling lavender and rosemary increases free radical scavenging activity and decreases cortisol level in saliva.
        Psych Res. 2007; 150: 89-96
        • Rosmond R.
        • Wallerius S.
        • Bjorntorp P.
        A 5-year follow-up study of disease incidence in men with an abnormal hormone pattern.
        J Intern Med. 2003; 254: 386-390
        • Kaplan J.R.
        • Pettersson K.
        • Manuck S.B.
        • Olsson G.
        Role of sympathoadrenal medullary activation in the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis.
        Circulation. 1991; 84: 23-32
        • Strawn W.B.
        • Bondjers G.
        • Kaplan J.R.
        Endothelial dysfunction in response to psychosocial stress in monkeys.
        Circ Res. 1991; 68: 1270-1279
        • Rozanski A.
        • Blumenthal J.A.
        • Kaplan J.
        Impact of psychological factors on the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease and implications for therapy.
        Circulation. 1999; 99: 2192-2217
        • Von Kanel R.
        • Kudielka B.M.
        • Fischer J.E.
        Hypercoagulability in working men and women with high levels of panic-like anxiety.
        Psychother Psychosom. 2004; 73: 353-360
        • Castillo-Richmond A.
        • Schneider R.H.
        • Salerno J.
        Effects of stress reduction on carotid atherosclerosis in hypertensive African Americans.
        Stroke. 2000; 31: 568-573
        • Strike P.C.
        • Steptoe A.
        Systematic review of mental stress-induced myocardial ischemia.
        Eur Heart J. 2003; 24: 690-703