Therapeutic effects of herbal extracts and constituents in animal models of psychiatric disorders

Life Sci. 2004 Aug 20;75(14):1659-99. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2004.04.014.


A search for novel pharmacotherapy from medicinal plants for psychiatric illnesses has progressed significantly in the past decade. This is reflected in the large number of herbal preparations for which psychotherapeutic potential has been evaluated in a variety of animal models. The objective of this review is to provide an overview of herbal extracts and constituents that have significant therapeutic effects in animal models of psychiatric illnesses. Eighty five individual herbs reviewed were classified as anxiolytic, antidepressant, neuroleptic, antidementia, or anti-substance abuse herbs. The full scientific name of each herb, herbal part used, active constituent, extract, dose range and route, animal model, possible mechanisms of action, and pertinent references are presented via synoptic tables. The herbal mixtures were also mentioned. A considerable number of herbal constituents whose behavioral effects and pharmacological actions have been well characterized may be good candidates for further investigations that may ultimately result in clinical use. The investigation of a large portion of the herbal extracts and herbal mixtures is in its infancy. Herbal remedies that have demonstrable psychotherapeutic activities have provided a potential to psychiatric pharmaceuticals and deserve increased attention in future studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dementia / drug therapy
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*
  • PubMed
  • Substance-Related Disorders / drug therapy


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Plant Extracts