Studies have shown the benefits of massage, and massage combined with aromatherapy, for stress-relief and relaxation. New research indicates that aromatherapy may lower systolic blood pressure and sympathetic nerve system activity.

Researchers from Seoul St. Mary’s Hospital, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea, set out to investigate the effectiveness of aromatherapy on blood pressure, heart rate variability, aortic pulse wave velocity and the aortic augmentation index of essential hypertensive patients, according to an abstract published on

Twenty-two participants were assigned to the experimental group, which was given a blend of oils of lemon (Citrus limonum), lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), and ylang ylang (Cananga odorata). Twenty pareticpaints assigned to the control group received an artificial lemon fragrance of Limonene and Citral mixture.

The experiment, inhalation, was conducted for three weeks (two minutes per inhalation, two times per day) by both groups.

“There was a noticeable difference in systolic blood pressure between the groups; however, the difference in diastolic blood pressure between the two groups was not significant,” the researchers wrote. “There was a notable difference in sympathetic nerve system activity of heart rate variability; however, the differences in aortic pulse wave velocity or the aortic augmentation index were not significant.”

“Effects of aromatherapy on changes in the autonomic nervous system, aortic pulse wave velocity and aortic augmentation index in patients with essential hypertension” ran in Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing (2010 Oct;40(5):705-13.)

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