Date of Graduation

Spring 2024


Master of Science in Psychology



Committee Chair

CaSandra Stanbrough


The use of essential oils as an alternative medicine in the United States is becoming increasingly popular as more accreditation is given to its therapeutic values. With this increase in use, we must continue to examine the uses of essential oils, including associated risks. One unavoidable aspect of life is stress, both acute and chronic. This study aims to better our understanding of the stress-reducing properties of the essential oil clary sage (salvia sclarea) after an experimentally induced acute stress experience. The Trier Social Stress Test was used to elicit an acute stress response. Participants were given the scent of either clary sage essential oil or sweet almond oil post-stressor. Psychological and physiological measures of stress were measured. Paired samples independent t-tests (sweet almond oil control group; clary sage experimental group) were used to examine differences in salivary cortisol, blood pressure, and responses to the State Trait Anxiety Inventory. Current results indicate that clary sage does not affect the reduction of salivary cortisol presence. No significant difference in blood pressure has been observed at this time, though results are trending towards the clary sage group having a significant decrease. No difference in responses to the STAI was found following the administration of either clary sage essential oil or sweet almond oil. Further research is needed to understand the potential anxiolytic effects of clary sage, and its use as a secondary treatment for anxiogenic disorders.


aromatherapy, essential oils, acute stress, perception, olfaction

Subject Categories

Cognition and Perception | Health Psychology | Other Social and Behavioral Sciences


© Emily J. Van Gundy

Open Access