Investigations into the specific effects of rosemary oil at the receptor level

Phytomedicine. 2010 Jul;17(8-9):693-7. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2009.09.012. Epub 2009 Dec 24.


Rosemary oil is used frequently in phytotherapy. The objective of the present study was to investigate the extent to which rosemary oil shows other effects on the smooth muscles than the familiar spasmolytic effects. The effects of rosemary oil on the spontaneous contractile activity were investigated in in vitro experiments with circular smooth-muscle strips of the guinea pig stomach. Rosemary oil was found to have agonistic effects on the alpha(1) and alpha(2) adrenergic receptors. These effects can be registered at concentrations up to 25 microl/l of rosemary oil. At higher concentrations the spasmolytic effect described in other reports could be detected. At concentrations above 100 microl/l rosemary oil, the effect of 10(-5)M ACH is completely suppressed. The results permit the assumption that, besides the spasmolytic effects investigated to date, owing to its specific effects on the alpha(2) adrenergic receptors of the nerve cells, rosemary oil brings about an additional improvement of local blood circulation and alleviates pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic Agonists / adverse effects
  • Adrenergic Agonists / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects*
  • Oils, Volatile / adverse effects
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha / metabolism*
  • Rosmarinus / adverse effects
  • Stomach


  • Adrenergic Agonists
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha
  • rosemary oil