By Steven G. Mehta
I have often believed that good scents can help change a person’s mood. I know that the hotel industry also feels that way, because hotels have for a long time, designed their own scents for their public spaces. Well recent research has now proven that all of those fragrant candles that we have purchased over the years have changed the way that we feel. Scientists in Japan are reporting the first scientific evidence that inhaling certain fragrances alter gene activity and blood chemistry in ways that can reduce stress levels.
In the new study, Akio Nakamura and colleagues note that people have inhaled the scent of certain plants since ancient times to help reduce stress, fight inflammation and depression, and induce sleep. Aromatherapy, the use of fragrant plant oils to improve mood and health, has become a popular form of alternative medicine today. And linalool is one of the most widely used substances to soothe away emotional stress. Until now, however, linalool’s exact effects on the body have been a deep mystery.
According to the study, subjects that were exposed to linalool during stressful times increased levels of hormones that are critical in fighting stress and building the immune system. Inhaling linalool also reduced the activity of more than 100 genes that go into overdrive in stressful situations. The findings could form the basis of new blood tests for identifying fragrances that can soothe stress, the researchers say.
I suspect that some mediators are already using scent persuasion to help them in persuading parties into dollars and cents decisions. Given this recent research, it certainly makes sense to expose clients to scents that help them reduce stress during the mediation process.
Nakamura et al. Stress Repression in Restrained Rats by (R)-(-)-Linalool Inhalation and Gene Expression Profiling of Their Whole Blood Cells. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2009; 57 (12): 5480