The soothing scent of Lavender

Lavender is a lovely scent that has now been shown to act on parts of the brain that reduce anxiety. Linalool (lin-a-loh-ol) is a prime component in lavender scent and when wafted at a bunch of stressed mice, they calmed down. Lavender- treated mice acted differently than ones treated with anxiety-reducing drugs, they didn’t seem to experience any side-effects and were generally happier. If the mice couldn’t smell, they did not experience the beneficial effect, which points to the complex interaction that odors have on the brain. It is a common experience to be transported by a familiar or comforting smell, or to have a vivid memory triggered by particular odors. Lavender, being associated with relaxation might be a great gift for the holidays, so here are some ideas that could be used to send out comfort into the world.

Lavender sachets for clothes drawers, or eye pillows. If you are a sew-er, make a lavender sachet for a clothes drawer. Zip up a square of fabric and fill it mostly with rice and throw in a teaspoon of dried lavender flowers before you close it up. Make an 8 x 4 rectangular version for a lavender eye-pillow. Non-sew sachets: just take a square of fabric, put the flowers inside, gather the edges and tie it up with a pretty ribbon.  If you are in the kitchen, throw some lavender flowers into a steaming pot of water on your stove to infuse the air with a gentle scent as well as some humidity as the air seasonally cools and dries. And I’m definitely going to try to make a happy version of these flourless chocolate-lavender cupcakes.  I’ll keep you posted!