Effect of a Single Session of Bergamot Orange Aromatherapy on Cardiac Autonomic Function among Patients with Depression


Thanalakshmi*, Karthikeyan, Kannan, Vinoth Kanna, L.Sundareswaran, Arbind Kumar Choudhary, Department of Yoga and K Maheshkumar

Background: Depression is becoming a major health concern in recent times, and nearly 350 million people suffer from depression. Reduced cardiovagal tone in patients with depression is well documented and contributes to higher cardiac morbidity and mortality.

Objective: To investigate the effect of single session Bergamot orange essential oil aromatherapy on the cardiac autonomic function using Heart Rate Variability (HRV) among depression patients.


The study included 80 patients (45 male, 35 female; age range 35 – 65, mean 44.92 ± 12.5) with HAMD (Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression) score of above 20. They were randomly allocated to either the Intervention group (Aromatherapy exposure group) (n = 40) or the Placebo control group (Water exposure group) (n = 40) in a 1:1 ratio. Bergamot essential oil was given as aromatherapy for 10 minutes. Blood pressure and cardiac autonomic nervous system parameters using Heart Rate Variability (HRV) were recorded 5 minutes before, immediately after applying the aroma inhalation, at 10 min and 30 min of a recovery period.


Following the aromatherapy for 10 minutes, the systolic (SBP; p = 0.04), diastolic blood pressure (DBP; p = 0.05), and heart rate (HR;p = 0.04) decreased and HRV variables such as RMSSD (p = 0.01), and HF (n.u) (p = 0.05) significantly increased at 10 min and 30 min of recovery periods compared to controls.

Conclusion:The result suggests that 10-minutes aromatherapy with Bergamot essential oil seems to drive cardiac autonomic function towards parasympathetic domination. However, the long term use of Bergamot oil on the autonomic function balance among patients with depression has to be studied further.