Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Competition horses calmed by lavender


Image of lavender from Wikimedia Commons

While lavender aromatherapy has been documented to reduce stress in humans, little is known about its potential for reducing stress in veterinary medicine. Horses can develop elevated heart rates and stress hormone levels when they are confined to horse trailers and transported to new competition venues. Therapies to reduce stress in competition horses are regulated and often prohibit the use of sedatives or oral supplements. Kylie Heitman, an undergraduate student at Albion College, was interested in whether aromatherapy could be used to calm competition horses during transportation. Kylie exposed horses to air-diffused lavender oil or water during transport and found that exposure to diffused lavender oil significantly reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol although there was no significant effect on heart rate. Her research was presented at the 2017 Experimental Biology meeting in Chicago last month.


PH Koulivand, MK Ghadiri, A Gorji. Lavender and the Nervous System. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2013; 2013: 681304. doi:  10.1155/2013/681304

American Physiological Society press release

Categories: Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Livestock, Nature's Solutions, Physiology on the Road, Stress

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