Introduction: This study was designed to investigate the putative anxiolytic-like activity of ultra-low doses of Gelsemium sempervirens (G. sempervirens), produced according to the homeopathic pharmacopeia.
Methods: Five different centesimal (C) dilutions of G. sempervirens (4C, 5C, 7C, 9C and 30C), the drug buspirone (5 mg/kg) and solvent vehicle were delivered intraperitoneally to groups of ICR-CD1 mice over a period of 9 days. The behavioral effects were assessed in the open-field (OF) and light-dark (LD) tests in blind and randomized fashion.
Results: Most G. sempervirens dilutions did not affect the total distance traveled in the OF (only the 5C had an almost significant stimulatory effect on this parameter), indicating that the medicine caused no sedation effects or unspecific changes in locomotor activity. In the same test, buspirone induced a slight but statistically significant decrease in locomotion. G. sempervirens showed little stimulatory activity on the time spent and distance traveled in the central zone of the OF, but this effect was not statistically significant. In the LD test, G. sempervirens increased the % time spent in the light compartment, an indicator of anxiolytic-like activity, with a statistically significant effect using the 5C, 9C and 30C dilutions. These effects were comparable to those of buspirone. The number of transitions between the compartments of the LD test markedly increased with G. sempervirens 5C, 9C and 30C dilutions.
Conclusion: The overall pattern of results provides evidence that G. sempervirens acts on the emotional reactivity of mice, and that its anxiolytic-like effects are apparent, with a non-linear relationship, even at high dilutions.