Antidepressant-like effect of Salvia sclarea is explained by modulation of dopamine activities in rats

J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Jul 6;130(1):187-90. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2010.04.035. Epub 2010 May 2.


Aim of the study: The purpose of the present study was to screen aromatic essential oils that have antidepressant effects to identify the regulatory mechanisms of selected essential oils.

Materials and methods: The antidepressant effects of essential oils of Anthemis nobilis (chamomile), Salvia sclarea (clary sage; clary), Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary), and Lavandula angustifolia (lavender) were assessed using a forced swim test (FST) in rats. Rats were treated with essential oils by intraperitoneal injection or inhalation. Serum levels of corticosterone were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).

Results: Among the essential oils tested, 5% (v/v) clary oil had the strongest anti-stressor effect in the FST. We further investigated the mechanism of clary oil antidepression by pretreatment with agonists or antagonists to serotonin (5-HT), dopamine (DA), adrenaline, and GABA receptors. The anti-stressor effect of clary oil was significantly blocked by pretreatment with buspirone (a 5-HT(1A) agonist), SCH-23390 (a D(1) receptor antagonist) and haloperidol (a D(2), D(3), and D(4) receptor antagonist).

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that clary oil could be developed as a therapeutic agent for patients with depression and that the antidepressant-like effect of clary oil is closely associated with modulation of the DAnergic pathway.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology*
  • Corticosterone / blood
  • Dopamine / metabolism*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-2 / physiology
  • Receptors, Dopamine / physiology
  • Receptors, GABA / physiology
  • Receptors, Serotonin / physiology
  • Salvia / chemistry*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-2
  • Receptors, Dopamine
  • Receptors, GABA
  • Receptors, Serotonin
  • Dopamine
  • Corticosterone