Smelling the fresh, woodsy aroma of pine or cedar can instantly transport you to a peaceful forest setting. But did you know that inhaling essential oils from conifer trees could also help you feel less stressed at the office?
A recent study dug into this idea, exploring how aromas from conifers affect relaxation and work performance. The results suggest that certain conifer tree oils may help calm frazzled nerves during hectic workdays. Keep reading to learn what they discovered!
The Study and the Essential Oils
A team of researchers at the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute in Japan conducted the experiment. They recruited 20 female university students to complete clerical tasks in a small office room under three conditions: no aroma, essential oil 1 (EO1), and essential oil 2 (EO2).
Let’s break down what was in these EO1 and EO2 blends:
EO1 contained oils distilled mainly from Cupressaceae and Pinaceae trees. The Cupressaceae family includes aromatic trees like cypress, juniper, and cedar. Pinaceae brings in pine, fir, and spruce. The main chemical component was alpha-pinene, contributing that crisp pine scent.
EO2 also featured Cupressaceae and Pinaceae oils, plus some additions from the Lauraceae family, which includes laurels, cinnamon, and sassafras. Its main components were alpha-pinene, 1,8-cineole (think eucalyptus), and linalool (a floral note found in lavender).
So, in summary, EO1 spotlighted cypress/cedar and pine, while EO2 had a more complex bouquet blending cypress/cedar and pine with highlights of laurel, cinnamon, and sassafras.
Both oil blends were diffused in the room as the students worked on clerical tasks. The researchers measured stress levels by analyzing heart rate, salivary hormones, and subjective ratings of mood and aroma perceptions.
Key Findings on Conifer Essential Oils and Stress Relief
Inhaling EO1 significantly reduced feelings of helplessness and showed a trend toward activating the parasympathetic nervous system, our body’s relaxation response. EO2 didn’t replicate the psychological effects but did boost positive perceptions of the scent.
Both EO1 and EO2 were rated as more pleasant and relaxing than no aroma at all. However, the oils didn’t seem to affect salivary oxytocin levels or work performance compared to the control setting.
While more research is needed, these promising results suggest diffusing conifer essential oils like EO1 in offices could help employees feel less stressed and more comfortable as they work. And who doesn’t want a bit extra Zen during busy workdays?
Aromatherapy and Workplace Wellness
Heavy workloads and other pressures can really wear people down over time. But smelling relaxing aromas is one simple way to create a more positive office environment. Companies should consider integrating suitable aromatherapy practices alongside other health initiatives to support their most valuable assets – their employees!
Because familiar smells like pine and cedar are already tied to nature and leisure in many people’s minds, they may be ideal aromas for enhancing workplace wellness in an accessible, affordable way.
So, the next time work has you feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath of a woodsy essential oil. Let the soothing forest aromas instill calm and help you tackle the day with a clearer mind. It’s amazing what a little scent-inspired chill time can do!
Conifer Essential Oils for Reducing Stress
- Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris)
- Black Spruce (Picea mariana)
- Hinoki (Chamaecyparis obtusa)
- Fir, Balsam (Abies balsamea)
- Fir, White (Abies alba)
- Fir, Giant (Abies grandis)
- Juniper berry (Juniperus communis)
- Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)
- Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
- Cedar (Cedrus atlantica)
- Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica)
Ultrasonic Diffuser Synergy (blend)
- 7 drops Scots Pine essential oil
- 5 drops Black Spruce essential oil
- 5 drops Giant Fir essential oil
This blog post is a review of a 2023 research paper that we purchased from Springer Link.
Matsubara, E., Matsui, N. & Kambara, K. Utilization of essential oils mainly from Cupressaceae trees in the work environment creates a psychophysiological stress-relieving effect. Wood Science and Technology (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00226-023-01490-6