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Various folk remedies employ certain odorous compounds with analgesic effects. In fact, linalool, a monoterpene alcohol found in lavender extracts, has been found to attenuate pain responses via subcutaneous, intraperitoneal, intrathecal, and oral administration. However, the analgesic effects of odorous compounds mediated by olfaction have not been thoroughly examined. We performed behavioural pain tests under odourant vapour exposure in mice. Among six odourant molecules examined, linalool significantly increased the pain threshold and attenuated pain behaviours. Olfactory bulb or epithelium lesion removed these effects, indicating that olfactory sensory input triggered the effects. Furthermore, immunohistochemical analysis revealed that linalool activated hypothalamic orexin neurons, one of the key mediators for pain processing. Formalin tests in orexin neuron-ablated and orexin peptide-deficient mice showed orexinergic transmission was essential for linalool odour-induced analgesia. Together, these findings reveal central analgesic circuits triggered by olfactory input in the mammalian brain and support a potential therapeutic approach for treating pain with linalool odour stimulation.


  • Scientific reports

    Scientific reports (6), 37129, 2016-11

    Nature Publishing Group



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