Anxiolytic effects of lavender oil inhalation on open-field behaviour in rats

D. Shaw, Judith Marion Annett, B. Docherty, J. C. Leslie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


To establish a valid animal model of the effects of olfactory stimuli on anxiety, a series of experiments was conducted using rats in an open-field test. Throughout, effects of lavender oil were compared with the effects of chlordiazepoxide (CDP), as a reference anxiolytic with well-known effects on open-field behaviour. Rats were exposed to lavender oil (0.1–1.0 ml) for 30 min (Experiment 1) or 1 h (Experiment 2) prior to open-field test and in the open field or injected with CDP (10 mg/kg i.p.). CDP had predicted effects on behaviour, and the higher doses of lavender oil had some effects on behaviour similar to those of CDP. In Experiment 3, various combinations of pre-exposure times and amounts of lavender oil were used. With sufficient exposure time and quantity of lavender the same effects were obtained as in Experiment 2. Experiment 4 demonstrated that these behavioural effects of lavender could be obtained following pre-exposure, even if no oil was present in the open-field test. In Experiments 2–4, lavender oil increased immobility. Together, these experiments suggest that lavender oil does have anxiolytic effects in the open field, but that a sedative effect can also occur at the highest doses.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2007


  • anxiety
  • olfaction
  • lavender oil


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