Combined non-adaptive light and smell stimuli lowered blood pressure, reduced heart rate and reduced negative affect

Dong S, Jacob TJ
Physiology & behavior, 2016


ABSTRACT:

Bright light therapy has been shown to have a positive impact on seasonal affective disorder (SAD), depression and anxiety. Smell has also has been shown to have effects on mood, stress, anxiety and depression. The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of the combination of light and smell in a non-adaptive cycle. Human subjects were given smell (lemon, lavender or peppermint) and light stimuli in a triangular wave (60scycle) for 15min. Blood pressure and heart rate were monitored before and after each session for 5 consecutive days and a Profile of Mood States (POMS) test was administered before and after the sensory stimulation on days 1, 3 and 5. The light-smell stimulus lowered blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic, and reduced heart rate for all odours compared to control. Of the two sensory stimuli, the odour stimulus contributed most to this effect. The different aromas in the light-smell combinations could be distinguished by their different effects on the mood factors with lemon inducing the greatest mood changes in Dejection-Depression, Anger-Hostility, Tension-Anxiety. In conclusion, combined light and smell stimulation was effective in lowering blood pressure, reducing heart rate and improving mood. The combination was more effective than either smell or light stimuli alone, suggesting that a light-smell combination would be a more robust and efficacious alternative treatment for depression, anxiety and stress.

CITATION:

Dong S, Jacob TJ. Combined non-adaptive light and smell stimuli lowered blood pressure, reduced heart rate and reduced negative affect. Physiol Behav. 2016;156:94-105.


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