Clinical Trial: The Effects of Smell on Mood and Physical Reponses

This study is currently recruiting patients.

Sponsored by: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)
Information provided by: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)


The purpose of this study is to examine the body's response to relaxing and stimulating fragrances commonly used in aromatherapy.

Condition Treatment or Intervention Phase
 Behavior: Exposure to relaxant and stimulant odors
Phase I

MedlinePlus related topics:  Depression;   Stress

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Treatment, Randomized, Double-Blind

Official Title: Olfaction, Mood, and Physiological Responses

Further Study Details: 
Primary Outcomes: Cortisol and catecholamine production; Immune functioning; Skin barrier repair
Expected Total Enrollment:  60

Although aromatherapy is widely used for pain relief, anxiety reduction, and enhanced energy, data on its efficacy are scant and potential mechanisms of action are controversial. This project will examine the autonomic, immune, and endocrine consequences of one sedating or relaxant odor, an activating or stimulant odor, and a neutral odor control in participants during both resting and "challenge" or stress conditions.

Participants will be randomly assigned to complete the three odor conditions in randomly assigned order over 3 days. Because both experimenters and participants are blind to odor condition and related details, the specific odors are not mentioned here. The odors will be administered to a cotton ball that will be placed under participants' noses for several hours. Participants will be asked to identify the odors.

Participants will have a delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) skin test, which assesses the ability of one's body to elicit an immune response, as well as tape stripping, which assesses skin barrier repair. Because contextual variables, such as expectancies and evaluations of odorants, are likely to be central to responsiveness in humans, responses using self-report measures and a battery of unobtrusive behavioral measures will also be assessed.


Ages Eligible for Study:  18 Years   -   44 Years,  Genders Eligible for Study:  Both

Accepts Healthy Volunteers


Inclusion Criteria:

  • Healthy adults with a normal sense of smell

Exclusion Criteria:

  • Treatment with medication that has immunological or endocrinological consequences
  • Chronic health problems that affect immune or endocrine systems
  • Allergy to perfume or cosmetics
  • Problems with sense of smell
  • Respiratory problems
  • Smoker
  • Current active asthma
  • Use of psychoactive drugs or mood-altering medication
  • History of anxiety disorder, major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or other psychotic disorders
  • History of chest pain or ventricular fibrillation

Location and Contact Information

      Ohio State University Institute for Biobehavioral Medicine Research, Columbus,  Ohio,  43210,  United States; Recruiting
Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD  614-292-0033 
Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD,  Principal Investigator

More Information

Study ID Numbers:  AT002122-01
Record last reviewed:  December 2004
Last Updated:  December 16, 2004
Record first received:  November 19, 2004 Identifier:  NCT00097253
Health Authority: United States: Federal Government processed this record on 2005-04-08

Cache Date: April 9, 2005