A healthy smell

Akio Nakamura and colleagues at T. Hasegawa Co., Ltd in Kawasaki, Japan, claim to have demonstrated that inhaling linalool can reduce stress, in lab rats at least. They exposed the animals to stressful conditions and found that those inhaling linalool saw their stress-elevated levels of neutrophils and lymphocytes fall to near-normal levels compared with the controls. 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 claim. Linalool is present in the scent of lemon, mango, lavender, and various fragrant plants.