You might load up on that OJ when you feel the sniffles coming on, which doesn’t really help by the way, but a new study shows that oranges might have a different, science-backed benefit: stress reduction.

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Researchers at George Washington University found that orange essential oil could help with stress and fear after stressful situations. In a study conducted on mice, the team looked to see if orange essential oil would have any impact on stress and fear using Pavlovian Fear conditioning. For the test, scientists play a sound that causes mice to freeze out of fear. The mice were separated into three groups: 12 of the critters only received the fear-inducing sound, 12 received water exposure before and after the noise, and 12 received exposure to orange essential oil before and after the audio tone.

The mice who inhaled the essential oil actually froze less and stopped the action earlier than the water-exposed mice. Their immune cells were also different compared to those not exposed to the oil, too. Prior research has shown that PTSD is linked to inflammation created by the immune system, indicating that orange essential oil could help treat the disorder.

"Relative to pharmaceuticals, essential oils are much more economical and do not have adverse side effects," said Cassandra Moshfegh, research assistant and study co-author in a statement. "The orange essential plant oil showed a significant effect on the behavioral response in our study mice. This is promising, because it shows that passively inhaling this essential oil could potentially assuage PTSD symptoms in humans."

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Typically occurring after a scary or dangerous event, PTSD can cause flashbacks, nightmares and frightening thoughts. Counseling is the primary treatment, but certain antidepressants may be used too.

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