Anxiolytic-like effect of Carvacrol (5-isopropyl-2-methylphenol) in mice: involvement with GABAergic transmission

Fundam Clin Pharmacol. 2010 Aug;24(4):437-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1472-8206.2009.00788.x. Epub 2009 Nov 10.


Carvacrol (5-isopropyl-2-methylphenol) is a monoterpenic phenol present in the essencial oil of many plants. It is the major component of the essential oil fraction of oregano and thyme. This work presents the behavioral effects of carvacrol in animal models of elevated plus maze (EPM), open field, Rotarod and barbiturate-induced sleeping time tests in mice. Carvacrol (CVC) was administered orally, in male mice, at single doses of 12.5; 25 and 50 mg/kg while diazepam 1 or 2 mg/kg was used as standard drug and flumazenil (2.5 mg/kg) was used to elucidate the possible anxiolytic mechanism of CVC on the plus maze test. The results showed that CVC, at three doses, had no effect on the spontaneous motor activity in the Rotarod test nor in the number of squares crossed in the open-field test. However, CVC decreased the number of groomings in the open-field test. In the plus maze test, CVC, at three doses significantly increased all the observed parameters in the EPM test and flumazenil was able to reverse the effects of diazepam and CVC. Therefore, CVC did not alter the sleep latency and sleeping time in the barbiturate-induced sleeping time test. These results show that CVC presents anxiolytic effects in the plus maze test which are not influenced by the locomotor activity in the open-field test.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / isolation & purification
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects*
  • Cymenes
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • GABA Modulators / chemistry
  • GABA Modulators / isolation & purification
  • GABA Modulators / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Molecular Structure
  • Monoterpenes / chemistry
  • Monoterpenes / isolation & purification
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism
  • Sleep / drug effects
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Cymenes
  • GABA Modulators
  • Monoterpenes
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • carvacrol