Neurobehavioral study of the effect of beta-myrcene on rodents

Braz J Med Biol Res. 1991;24(8):827-31.


Tea prepared from lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is used for its supposed anxiolytic, hypnotic and analgesic properties in Brazilian folk medicine. beta-Myrcene, a major constituent of lemongrass, produces analgesia in rodents but there is some controversy about whether this action is central or peripheral or both. Rats and mice received beta-myrcene, 1 g/kg po in corn oil, or corn oil alone 1 h before being evaluated for a series of responses which included exploratory and emotional behavior, anxiolytic activity in a plus maze and inhibition of conditioned avoidance. No evidence was demonstrable for an effect of beta-myrcene on any of these behaviors. Similarly, beta-myrcene had no protective effect on pentylenetetrazol (PTZ)-induced seizures in mice. These data suggest that beta-myrcene has no benzodiazepine-like anxiolytic activity and that an activity on the central nervous system (antidepressive or antipsychotic) is unlikely. Despite the negative results of this study, folk use of lemongrass tea may still be justified by its analgesic properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / drug effects
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Monoterpenes*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects*
  • Pentylenetetrazole / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Seizures / chemically induced
  • Terpenes / pharmacology*


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Monoterpenes
  • Terpenes
  • beta-myrcene
  • Pentylenetetrazole