With the recognition that high levels of sustained stress are associated with the natural course of countless illnesses, effective anti-stress agents have gained importance. Improved endurance to particularly stressful periods is one of the medicinal claims for Marapuama (Ptychopetalum olacoides Bentham, PO), a popular Amazonian herbal. The purpose of this study was to evaluate if PO possesses anti-stress properties. To this end, an extract from PO (POEE) was evaluated on anxiety and glucose levels in mice submitted to the unpredictable chronic mild stress (UCMS) paradigm. POEE did not present anxiolytic effects, but was able to prevent (p<0.01) the UCMS-induced anxiety as assessed by the light/dark test (time spent in the lit area, POEE 100 and 300mg/kg 235.9+/-20.6s and 250.4+/-17.4s, respectively, compared to DMSO 104.7+/-24.4s). Likewise, although POEE did not induce noticeable effects on glycemia, it effectively (p<0.01) prevented the UCMS-induced hyperglycemia (POEE 100 and 300mg/kg 106.4+/-6.7mg/dl and 107.3+/-3.3mg/dl, respectively, compared to DMSO 134.6+/-5.9mg/dl). Additionally, POEE (50-200mg/kg i.p. and 800mg/kg p.o.) significantly (p<0.01 and p<0.05, respectively) increased the time to hypoxia-induced convulsion (by 38%, 51%, 59% and 27%, respectively for i.p. and p.o. treatments). The data indicate that POEE counteracts some of the effects brought about by chronic stress. This study combined with the identified antioxidant and neuroprotective properties, as well as the claimed benefits associated with stressful periods suggest that Ptychopetalum olacoides (Marapuama) might possess adaptogen-like properties.
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