Chlordiazepoxide and lavender oil alter unconditioned anxiety-induced c-fos expression in the rat brain

Shaw D, Norwood K, Leslie JC
Behavioural Brain Research, 2011


Lavender oil has a long history of use for treating anxiety, but only recent research has examined its effects using standard behavioural methods used to test novel drugs. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of inhaled lavender oil on anxiety related behaviour of rats in the open field and to compare them with the effects of chlordiazepoxide (CDP), a typical anxiolytic drug. Additionally c-fos immunochemistry was used to investigate whether lavender oil produced the same pattern of c-fos expression as CDP in eight different brain areas associated with anxiety. As previously found, lavender oil showed anxiolytic properties in the open field similar to but not as extensive as those of CDP. Immunochemistry results indicated that exposure to the open field increased c-fos expression, while CDP reversed the effects of this behavioural stressor on c-fos expression in all brain regions examined except the central nucleus of the amygdala, where c-fos expression increased. Lavender oil had similar effects to CDP on the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus, the dorsomedial hypothalamic nucleus and the central nucleus of the amygdala. These results strengthen the suggestion that inhaling lavender oil has anxiolytic behavioural effects, but they are weaker than the effects of benzodiazepines, and there is limited evidence that they are mediated by the same neural processes.


Shaw D, Norwood K, Leslie JC. Chlordiazepoxide and lavender oil alter unconditioned anxiety-induced c-fos expression in the rat brain. Behav Brain Res. 2011;224(1):1-7.

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