Integrative Medicine/Nutrition

  • Sweet Orange Aroma and Treatment of Anxiety
    August 21, 2012

    While anxiety disorders remain one of the most prevalent psychological conditions in the general public worldwide, treatment options that do not promote dependence still provide a substantial challenge.  Aromatherapy has shown great promise with respect to an integrative approach to management of psychological conditions rather than treatment with more conventional (standard pharmacotherapeutic) options.

    Forty Brazilian men between ages of 18 and 30 completed the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, then were randomized to treatment with inhalation of sweet orange essential oil; tea tree essential oil; or water (non-aromatic control), then completed a video-monitored Stroop Color-Word Test, which served as an anxiety provocation.  Measurements of psychological stress included heart rate and an electromyogram of the gastrocnemius muscle.

    Men who were exposed to test aromas did not exhibit significant alterations in anxiety, subjective tension or agitation.  Tranquility levels were increased in men who received sweet orange aromatherapy, which offers some scientific support for its use as an anxiolytic.  The higher dose of 10 drops compared to 2.5 drops provided a decrease in anxiety symptoms.  One limitation of this study was that it included a small number of graduate students under 30 years of age.  While larger and more rigorous trials are needed to prove a greater degree of efficacy, this study provides some promise for additional therapeutic options for the treatment of anxiety.

    Reference: Goes TC, Antunes FD, Alves PB, Teixeria-Silva F.  Effect of sweet orange aroma on experimental anxiety in humans.  Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine 2012;18(8):798-804.