Linalool, this natural alcohol found in many plants, including lavender, would have the same calming properties as Valium®, but without its side effects (memory problems, drowsiness ...) and without physical dependence.
Thanks to its delicious smell, lavender is already present in many homes (cupboards, bath or candles). But beyond its delicious fragrance, one of the volatile compounds of this flower would have, according to a new study, the same soothing properties as Valium®, but without the side effects of this drug against anxiety, and especially, without the risk of physical and mental dependence.
More specifically, scientists have been studying the effects of linalool, a natural alcohol found in many plants, including lavender. The tests were performed in mice, so the metabolism is close to that of humans. Some have been exposed to lavender vapors, others not. Then all were exposed to stressful environments, like boxes without light or labyrinths.
A link with the sense of smell
Mice that had inhaled lavender were much more likely to explore these scary environments than others. According to the researchers, these mice were calmer and relaxed, and none of them suffered the side effects seen with Valium®.
In contrast, the effects of linalool were not observed when researchers neutralized animals' sense of smell, or artificially blocked certain receptors in their brains on which anxiolytics act. The olfactory neurons of the nose and these cerebral points are thus stimulated in the same way by linalool and by Valium®.
"In summary, we found that exposure to linalool vapors induced anxiolytic effects without motor impairment in mice, and effects were suppressed in anosmic mice, indicating that olfactory linalool was needed to trigger the effects, "says the team.
She adds: "These results give us a working basis for the clinical application of linalool odor in anxiety disorders". Note that we speak here of linalool, which is a compound of lavender. Sniffing these flowers, even abundantly, will not soothe an anxiety attack or a state of pathological anxiety.
Side effects of Valium®
Valium® is an anxiolytic drug of the benzodiazepine family and remains one of the most used tranquilizers. However, its side effects are many, namely: memory problems, behavioral disorders, feelings of drunkenness, headaches, difficulties in coordinating certain movements, confusion, drowsiness, nightmares, decreased libido or rashes. Above all, the main problem is the very rapid onset of physical and mental dependence that prevents people who consume too long to do without it.
The two criteria used to distinguish between normal anxiety and anxiety disorder are personal suffering and the difficulty of functioning. If anxiety is so strong that it constantly preoccupies thought, or affects the ability to live normally, at work, in society, or in other areas, then anxiety is considered a must be treated, but different treatments are available, from psychotherapy to medication.