Mood Benefits Fragrance

IFF developed an interest in aromatherapy in the early 1980s as a potential means for imparting a stress-reducing benefit to fragrance. Aromatherapy is an age-old practice of applying the healing benefits of certain aromatic essential oils. In the tradition of aromatherapy, specific essential oils are stress reducing, whereas others are energizing, and still others can have either effect, depending on the user’s state of mind/body interaction. We reasoned that the best way to study the stress-reducing properties of fragrance would be to investigate their physiological effects. In 1983 IFF initiated a joint program with Dr. Gary E. Schwartz, a psychophysiologist and stress researcher at Yale University. The original focus of this program was on the well-known stress response in humans, which can be measured using the galvanic skin response, skin temperature, muscle tension, heart rate, respiration, and especially blood pressure. Although physiological measurement can be used to index the stress response, these measures do not provide direct information about how fragrance affects a person’s moods or feelings. Psychological self-report measures are needed to do this. In 1985 IFF instituted an in-house Aroma Science program, whose focus was on the effects of fragrance and fragrance ingredients on subjective moods.

Today, nine years of experience with physiological measures and seven years with the psychological measurement of mood have led to the following observations:

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