The wood of the Cupressaceae conifer family is widely used for many purposes, such as the structural and interior elements of buildings. Several studies have reported the effects of the Cupressaceae wood odor on humans. However, only a few studies have investigated the effects of the volatile compounds on psychophysiological responses in an indoor environment. In this study, the psychophysiological effects following the inhalation of volatile essential oils from the Hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa) and Sawara cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera) woods were evaluated. Levels of salivary stress markers were used to determine the study participants’ endocrinological responses as well as the changes in their autonomic nervous systems during the experimental period. A questionnaire survey was also conducted to assess the perceptions of the odors in the experimental rooms and the participants’ psychological states. It was found that olfactory stimulation with volatile compounds from the essential oil of the Hinoki cypress wood increased salivary dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate levels in the rest period following stressful work. Sympathetic nervous activity levels were lower, and parasympathetic nervous activity levels were higher immediately following stressful work. A similar tendency was observed with exposure to the essential oil of the Sawara cypress wood. These observations suggest that an environment with the Hinoki or Sawara cypress wood odor may be useful in promoting physiological relaxation following stressful work.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Angelucci FL, Silva VV, Pizzol CD, Spir LG, Praes CEO, Maibach H (2014) Physiological effect of olfactory stimuli inhalation in humans: an overview. Int J Cosmet Sci 36:117–123
Brand G, Millot JL (2001) Sex differences in human olfaction: between evidence and enigma. QJEP 54(3):2509–3270
Chen CJ, Kumar KJS, Chen YT, Tsao NW, Chien SC, Chang ST, Chu FH, Wang SY (2015) Effect of Hinoki and Meniki essential oils on human autonomic nervous system activity and mood states. Nat Prod Commun 10(7):1305–1308
Dalton P (2000) Fragrance perception: from the nose to the brain. J Cosmet Sci 51(141):151
Doğru MT, Başar MM, Yuvanç E, Şimşek V, Şahin Ö (2010) The relationship between serum sex steroid levels and heart rate variability parameters in males and the effects of age. Arch Turk Soc Cardiol 38(7):459–465
Forest Agency, Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries, Japan (2017) Annual report on forests and forestry in Japan. Fiscal Year 2017 https://www.rinya.maff.go.jp/j/kikaku/hakusyo/29hakusyo/attach/pdf/zenbun-40.pdf. Accessed 1 June 2018 (in Japanese)
Heuberger E, Ilmberger J (2010) The influence of essential oils on human vigilance. Nat Prod Commun 5(9):1441–1446
Hosoi J, Haze S, Gozu Y, Sakai K, Moriyama M, Tsuchiya T (2007) Stimulation of DHEA secretion and regulation of skin functions by odorants or skin care. Auton Neurosci Basic Clin 137:103–104
Ikei H, Song C, Lee J, Miyazaki Y (2015) Comparison of the effects of olfactory stimulation by air-dried and high-temperature-dried wood chips of hinoki cypress (Chamaecyparis obutusa) on prefrontal cortex activity. J Wood Sci 61(5):537–540. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10086-015-1495-6
Izawa S, Sugaya N, Shirotsuki K, Yamada KC, Ogawa N, Ouchi Y, Nagano Y, Suzuki K, Nomura S (2008) Salivary dehydroepiandrosterone secretion in response to acute psychosocial stress and its correlations with biological and psychological changes. Biol Psychol 79:294–298
Kimura A, Sasaki S, Shibutani S, Kobayashi D, Iijima Y, Yatagai M (2009) Effects of inhalation of Akita Sugi (Cryptomeria japonica) wood oil on psychological and physiological responses. Aroma Res 10(2):162–169
Kimura A, Sugiyama H, Sasaki S, Yatagai M (2011) Psychological and physiological effects in humans induced by the visual and olfactory stimulations of an interior environment made of Hiba (Thujopsis dolabrata) wood. Mokuzai Gakkaishi 57(3):150–159
Lemos MP, Miranda MT, Marocolo M, Resende EAMR, Chriguer RS, Sorai CC, Neto OC (2019) Low levels of dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate are associated with the risk of developing cardiac autonomic dysfunction in elderly subjects. Arch Endocinol Metab 63:1. https://doi.org/10.20945/2359-3997000000104
Lennartsson AK, Kushnir MM, Bergquist J, Jonsdottir IH (2012) DHEA and DHEA-S response to acute psychosocial stress in healthy men and women. Biol Psychol 90:143–149
Li Q, Otsuka T, Kobayashi M, Wakayama Y, Inagaki H, Katsumata M, Hirata Y, Li YJ, Hirata K, Shimizu T, Suzuki H, Kawada T, Kagawa T (2011) Acute effects of walking in forest environments on cardiovascular and metabolic parameters. Eur J Appl Physiol 111:2845–2853
Matsubara E, Kawai S (2014) VOCs emitted from Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) interior walls induce physiological relaxation. Build Environ 72:125–130
Matsubara E, Kawai S (2018) Gender differences in the psychophysiological effects induced by VOCs emitted from Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica). Environ Health Prev Med 23:10. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12199-018-0700-9
Matsubara E, Ohira T (2018) Inhalation of Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) wood odor causes psychological relaxation after monotonous work among female participants. Biomed Res (Tokyo) 39(5):241–249
Matsubara E, Fukagawa M, Okamoto T, Ohnuki K, Shimizu K, Kondo R (2011a) The essential oil of Abies sibirica (Pinaceae) reduces arousal levels after visual display terminal work. Flav Fragr J 26(3):204–210
Matsubara E, Fukagawa M, Okamoto T, Fukuda A, Hayashi C, Ohnuki K, Shimizu K, Kondo R (2011b) Volatiles emitted from the leaves of Laurus nobilis L. improve vigilance performance in visual discrimination task. Biomed Res 32(1):19–28
Matsubara E, Fukagawa M, Okamoto T, Ohnuki K, Shimizu K, Kondo R (2011c) (−)-Bornyl acetate induces autonomic relaxation and reduces arousal level after visual display terminal work without any influences of task performance in low-dose condition. Biomed Res 32(2):151–157
Matsubara E, Tsunetsugu Y, Ohira T, Sugiyama M (2017) Essential oil of Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) wood increases salivary dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate levels after monotonous work. J Environ Res Public Health 14(1):97. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14010097
Morgan CA, Southwick S, Hazlett G, Rasmusson A, Hoyt G, Zimolo Z, Charney D (2004) Relationships among plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate and cortisol levels, symptoms of dissociation, and objective performance in humans exposed to acute stress. Arch Gen Psychiatry 61:819–825
Nakane H (1999) Salivary Chromogranin A as index of psychosomatic stress response. Toyota Chuo Kenkyusho R&D Rebyu 34(3):17–22
Niu J, Liu ZM, Wang XM, Xu YM, Wang QW (2007) Analysis of compounds in dichloromethane extractives for Sawara falsecypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera) outer heartwood. J Forest Res 18(3):208–212
Oka T, Tanahashi T, Sudo N, Lkhagvasuren B, Yamada Y (2018) Changes in fatigue, autonomic functions, and blood biomarkers due to sitting isometric yoga in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Biopsychosoc Med 12:3. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13030-018-0123-2
Park JS (2017) Effects of Juniper essential oil on the activity of autonomic nervous system. Biomed Sci Lett 23(3):286–289
Sakuragawa S, Miyazaki Y, Kaneko T, Makita T (2005) Influence of wood wall panels on physiological and psychological responses. J Wood Sci 51(2):136–140. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10086-004-0643-1
Saruta J, Tsukinoki K, Sasaguri K, Ishii K, Yasuda M, Osamura YR, Watanabe Y, Sato S (2005) Expression and localization of chromogranin A gene and protein in human submandibular gland. Cell Tissue Organ 180(4):237–244
Sato A, Kitamura T, Higuchi T (1970) Some chemical observation on a natural graft-wood of Japanese cypress (Chamaecyparis obtuse ENDL.) and Sawara cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera SIEB. et ZUCC.). Wood Res Bull Wood Res Inst Kyoto Univ 50:12–18
Shaffer F, Ginsberg JP (2017) An overview of heart rate variability metrics and norms. Front Public Health 5(258):1–17
Shieh B, Iizuka Y, Matsubara Y (1981) Monoterpenoid and sesquiterpenoid constituents of the essential oil of Hinoki (Chamaecyparis obtuse (SIEB. et Zucc.) Endl.). Agric Biol Chem 45(6):1497–1499
Shirotsuki K, Izawa S, Sugaya N, Yamada KC, Ogawa N, Ouchi Y, Nagano Y, Nomura S (2009) Salivary cortisol and DHEA reactivity to psychosocial stress in socially anxious males. Int J Psychophysiol 72:19–203
Suzuki K, Gotoh H, Harada S, Tanaka H (2007) Effects of alpha-pinene on fatigue reduction during car driving. Trans Jpn Soc Mech Eng Ser C 73(743):2788–2795
Takehana M, Bamba I, Kounoike T (2018) Olfactory effects of cypress on physiological and psychological responses. Bull Tokyo Gakugei Univ Educ Sci 69(2):375–382
Tanaka Y, Wakida S (2011) Biomarkers of stress and fatigue. Folia Pharmacol Jpn 137:185–188
Task Force of the European Society of Cardiology and the North American Society of Pacing and Electrophysiology (1996) Heart rate variability. Standards of measurement, physiological interpretation, and clinical use. Circulation 93:1043–1065. https://doi.org/10.1161/01.CIR.93.5.1043
Toda M, Morimoto K (2008) Effect of lavender aroma on salivary endocrinological stress markers. Arch Oral Biol 3:965–968
Toda M, Morimoto K (2011) Evaluation of effects of lavender and peppermint aromatherapy using sensitive salivary endocrinological stress markers. Stress Health 27:430–435
Tsunetsugu Y, Ishibashi K, Iwanaga K (2014) Effects of α-pinene and limonene inhalation on the physiological responses during a computer task. Japan J Aromather 14(1):1–7
Yamaguchi M (2007) Stress evaluation using a biomarker in saliva. Folia Pharmacol Jpn 129:80–84
The authors thank Mr. Shimizu for his help with material preparation, Ms. Yanagiya for her help with data collection, and Dr. Ohmura and Dr. Kusumoto for their help with the measurement equipment. The authors also thank the participants of this study. This work was supported by the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute under Research Grant No. 201418.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Matsubara, E., Matsui, N. & Ohira, T. Evaluation of the psychophysiological effects of the Cupressaceae family wood odor. Wood Sci Technol 54, 269–286 (2020) doi:10.1007/s00226-019-01151-7