“Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly,
When you are king, dilly dilly,
I shall be queen”
Every time I hear the word, “lavender” those words from an English folk song dating back to the 17th century and popular when I was in high school (a long, long time ago), pop into my mind. So when I saw an article that said researchers had found some components of lavender odor affected anxiety in mice similar to taking Valium, I was interested.
First, I didn’t know that mice suffered from anxiety. I knew some people suffer some anxiety whenever they see a mouse but it never occurred to me that a mouse could be anxious. And second, I sure didn’t know that mice took Valium to relieve anxiety. Maybe those are the ones my cat caught.
People like lavender, the article said, using it in the bath, candles, sachets and essential oils. I have a friend who gave me a tiny vial of lavender oil when I complained about a stiff neck. It’s associated with tranquility, calm, relaxation and serenity. And who, in this era of national chaos, with anxiety tweeted daily, doesn’t feel a critical need for some tranquility, calm, relaxation and serenity?
A neuroscience journal study found that sniffing linalool, an alcohol component of lavender odor, was kind of like popping a Valium. If you doubt it, ask a mouse. And that backs up the advice in many articles on how rubbing lavender on your pillow helps you relax and get to sleep at night. It could help soothe the nearly one-fifth of all adults in the United States who have anxiety disorders.
I used to set out some lavender plants every spring with the goal of seeing them swaying gently in the breeze, sending out that distinctive odor. But every year, by mid-summer, they dried up to brown twigs. Then one year, I tried again by putting a $6 plant in a big pot on top of a stump. This time, the plant was covered with the tall, distinctive blue flowers — but they smelled a little off.
We just have to decide: Are we a man or a mouse?
Mary McClure lives in Lawton and writes a weekly column for The Lawton Constitution.