Lavender Oil SmallCould lavender oil be the secret to poker success? If the English Bridge team at the recent World Mind Game in Lille, France, are anything to go by, then the answer is yes.

An article in the British Daily Mail newspaper detailed how a dab of lavender oil helped the six-strong England team win the gold medal, defending their title from Beijing in 2008, while sparking what could be competitive sport’s most genteel row concerning substance use.

Heather Dhondy, 46, Nevena Senior, 52, Nicola Smith, 63, Sally Brock, 58, Susan Stockdale, 29, and Fiona Brown, 27, defeated the Russian team in a final match of the competition which lasted two days. Of course it was not just lavender oil that helped them to victory, but extended period of practice, training and a strict diet to combat the long hours of competitive play at the Games.

Lavender oil is known for its calming effects in times of stress. However, as they had previously found in a match against France in May during the European Championships, it’s not always welcomed by opponents.

“We dab ourselves with drops of lavender oil before every match,” said Dhondy. “It is supposed to calm the nerves and improve concentration – and it sometimes annoys our opponents. They don’t seem to like the smell very much.”

In one incident, a team member overheard the French team comparing the smell to toilet cleaner.

“I don’t know for sure if it put them off,” said Smith, “but the moment she started complaining about the smell I knew we had the upper hand.”

Either way, England went on to win the European title and now have WMG gold to add to their records. They have no plans on giving up, or sharing their secret weapon.

“Sally, my partner on the bridge team, once tried to offer some to an opponent,” said Smith. “I immediately threatened to “divorce” her if she gave our lavender oil to the opposition. We don’t want the rest of the world using it.”

Read the full article on the Daily Mail website.