Evaluation of the sesquiterpene (-)-alpha-bisabolol as a novel peripheral nervous blocker

Neurosci Lett. 2010 Mar 12;472(1):11-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2010.01.042. Epub 2010 Jan 25.


Essential oils are natural, complex and multi-component systems composed mainly of terpenes in addition to some other non-terpenes compounds that are widely used to prevent and treat human diseases. (-)-alpha-Bisabolol is an unsaturated monocyclic sesquiterpene alcohol found as the major constituent of many essential oils, like the German chamomile (Chamomilla recutita (L.) Rauschert), a plant reported to reduce the perception of acute pain and used for centuries for their medicinal properties. Recently, our group demonstrated the antinociceptive-like effect promoted by other terpenes could be associated with the decreased peripheral nerve excitability. Therefore, this study investigated the pharmacological activities of (-)-alpha-bisabolol on mice peripheral nervous system observing the changes on the compound action potential (CAP) characteristics. Using modified single sucrose-gap method in mice sciatic nerves, we acquired CAP recordings in the absence and presence of (-)-alpha-bisabolol (0.5, 1, 5 and 10mM). We observed that this sesquiterpene was able to reduce the neuronal excitability in a concentration-dependent manner, although, such effects were not reversed when the nerve was submitted to wash out. Assessing CAP parameters of depolarization and repolarization, we noticed similarities between (-)-alpha-bisabolol and lidocaine but not with 4-aminopyridine that are considered good blockers for sodium and potassium voltage-gated channels, respectively. Additionally, we also characterized the non-use-dependent profile of (-)-alpha-bisabolol action, in contrast to lidocaine. Thus, we suggested that decreased nervous excitability elicited by (-)-alpha-bisabolol might be caused by an irreversible blockade of voltage-dependent sodium channels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 4-Aminopyridine / pharmacology
  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Analgesics / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Lidocaine / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Monocyclic Sesquiterpenes
  • Potassium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Sciatic Nerve / drug effects*
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiology
  • Sesquiterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Sodium Channel Blockers / pharmacology*


  • Analgesics
  • Monocyclic Sesquiterpenes
  • Potassium Channel Blockers
  • Potassium Channels, Voltage-Gated
  • Sesquiterpenes
  • Sodium Channel Blockers
  • bisabolol
  • Lidocaine
  • 4-Aminopyridine