Sedative, anxiolytic and antidepressant activities of Citrus limon (Burn) essential oil in mice

Pharmazie. 2011 Aug;66(8):623-7.


We examined the sedative, anxiolytic and antidepressant effects of essential oil (EO) of leaves from Citrus limon, which has been used as one of the most popular compounds in Brazilian traditional herbal medicine. The effects of EO were demonstrated by open-field, elevated-plus-maze, rota rod, pentobarbital-induced sleeping time, and forced swimming tests in mice. In the open-field test, EO at the doses of 50, 100 and 150 mg/kg, after oral administration, significantly decreased the number of crossings, grooming, and rearing. In the elevated-plus-maze (EPM) test, EO increased the time of permanence and the number of entrances in the open arms. On the contrary, the time of permanence and the number of entrances in the closed arms were decreased. In the rota rod test, EO did not alter motor coordination and, thus, was devoid of effects, as related to controls. In the pentobarbital-induced sleeping time test, EO at the same doses significantly increased the animals sleeping time duration. Since EO, at the doses of 50, 100 and 150 mg/kg, did not show a sedative effect in the open field test, these three doses were used in the forced swimming test, producing a decrease in the immobility time, similarly to that of imipramine (positive control). However, the antidepressant effects of EO were not altered by the previous administration of paroxetine. In addition, effects of EO in the forced swimming test were totally blocked by reserpine pretreatment. In conclusion, the present work evidenced sedative and anxiolytic effects of EO that might involve an action on benzodiazepine-type receptors, and also an antidepressant effect where noradrenergic and serotoninergic mechanisms will probably play a role.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents*
  • Antidepressive Agents*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Body Temperature / drug effects
  • Citrus / chemistry*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Pentobarbital / pharmacology
  • Postural Balance / drug effects
  • Sleep / drug effects
  • Swimming / psychology


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Pentobarbital