Scientists at the University of Tokyo have shown that the spice-based compound, linalool reduces the effects of stress on the immune system.
Linalool is a fragrant compound found in several plants including the spices, sweet basil, thyme, cinnamon, bay leaf and fruits such as citrus and mangoes. For many years it has been used extensively in aromatherapy essential oils and as a fragrance for soaps, shampoos and other toiletries.
Linalool is well known as one of the most important calming fragrances and, until this research was published, was thought to act only on the nervous system. However, writing in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Akio Nakamura and his colleagues demonstrate that its action extends beyond the brain to the immune system itself.
In a controlled study the researchers exposed a treatment group of stressed rats to linalool fragrance. At the end of the two hour stress period they measured the white blood cell count, hormone levels and gene activation levels of both the treated and control groups.
The blood tests following the experiment showed that stress hormone levels in both the control and treatment groups were significantly raised at the end of the two hour stress period.
What many of us have known for years – that one of the causes of depression and anxiety is a poor quality diet – has now been scientifically proven.
Mediterranean diet beats depression
At least three scientific studies over the past year have shown that a good, so called “traditional” diet can REDUCE the risk of depression by up to 30%. On the other hand those who eat a “westernized” diet INCREASE their risk of depression by up to 50%.
These research papers show that individuals who follow a Mediterranean type diet have far lower incidences of depression than those who eat a typical western style diet.
A Mediterranean diet typically consists of whole grains, pulses, fruit, vegetables, herbs, spices, seafood and low levels of saturated fats.
A typical western diet, on the other hand, consists primarily of refined carbohydrates, sugar, high levels of animal-based saturated fats and very few fruit and vegetables.
A couple of years ago I started writing my third book on a health related topic. While carrying out research for the book, numerous references to scientific studies showing how important spices are in helping to prevent and treat a variety of diseases, kept turning up.The closer I looked into this subject the more I discovered how much research was being done into the therapeutic and preventive properties of spices.
That warm feeling you get after you have eaten a very spicy meal is not only a result of the heating effects of chilies and other spices. Apart from their delicious flavors and metabolism-boosting effects, all spices have extremely valuable health enhancing properties.
What has this got to do with stress you may ask?