Acute effects of bergamot oil on anxiety-related behaviour and corticosterone level in rats

Phytother Res. 2011 Jun;25(6):858-62. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3325. Epub 2010 Nov 23.

Abstract

Bergamot essential oil (BEO), Citrus aurantium subsp. bergamia (Risso) Wright & Arn. (Rutaceae), is used widely in aromatherapy to reduce stress and anxiety despite limited scientific evidence. A previous study showed that BEO significantly increased gamma-aminobutyric acid levels in rat hippocampus, suggesting potential anxiolytic properties. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of BEO (1.0%, 2.5% and 5.0% w/w) administered to rats on both anxiety-related behaviours (the elevated plus-maze (EPM) and hole-board tests) and stress-induced levels of plasma corticosterone in comparison with the effects of diazepam. Inhalation of BEO (1% and 2.5%) and injection of diazepam (1 mg/kg, i.p.) significantly increased the percentage of open arm entries on the EPM. The percentage time spent in the open arms was also significantly enhanced following administration of either BEO (2.5% and 5%) or diazepam. Total arm entries were significantly increased with the highest dose (5%), suggesting an increase in locomotor activity. In the hole-board test, 2.5% BEO and diazepam significantly increased the number of head dips. 2.5% BEO and diazepam attenuated the corticosterone response to acute stress caused by exposure to the EPM. In conclusion, both BEO and diazepam exhibited anxiolytic-like behaviours and attenuated HPA axis activity by reducing the corticosterone response to stress.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anxiety Disorders / blood*
  • Anxiety Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Corticosterone / blood*
  • Diazepam / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar

Substances

  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Extracts
  • Plant Oils
  • bergamot oil
  • Diazepam
  • Corticosterone