Antidepressant activity of Litsea glaucescens essential oil: identification of β-pinene and linalool as active principles

J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Sep 28;143(2):673-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.07.026. Epub 2012 Jul 31.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Litsea glaucescens (Lauraceae) has been used in Mexican Traditional Medicine to relieve illness related to central nervous system, such as epilepsy, fright and sadness. In this study, L. glaucescens essential oil properties on central nervous system were evaluated in mice using different behavioral tests.

Materials and methods: The essential oil was obtained by hydrodistillation and analyzed by GC/MS. Identification of major compounds was also carried out by comparison with authentic samples. The psychopharmacological profile of L. glaucescens essential oil, and some its major compounds, were evaluated in mice using several experimental models: forced swimming test (FST: Antidepressant-like activity), open field test (OFT: Spontaneous locomotor activity), elevated plus-maze (EPM: Anxiolytic-like activity), exploratory cylinder (ECT: Sedative-like activity), rotarod (motor coordination) and traction performance (myo-relaxant effect) the essential oil and active principles was administered intraperitoneally.

Results: The essential oil showed antidepressant-like activity at doses of 100 and 300 mg/Kg. The monoterpenes β-pinene and linalool were identified as the two main active principles of the essential oil, and showed antidepressant-like and sedative-like activity. Eucalyptol, limonene and α-pinene they did not show antidepressant-like activity, and were not further tested.

Conclusions: L. glaucescens essential oil showed antidepressant activity, β-pinene and linalool were identified as its active principles. These results support the use of L. glaucescens in Mexican Traditional Medicine for the treatment of sadness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / analysis
  • Antidepressive Agents / chemistry
  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Behavior, Animal / drug effects
  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds / analysis
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds / pharmacology
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds / therapeutic use*
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / physiopathology
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / analysis
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacology
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use
  • Litsea*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Monoterpenes / analysis
  • Monoterpenes / pharmacology
  • Monoterpenes / therapeutic use*
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Leaves
  • Swimming


  • Acyclic Monoterpenes
  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Bicyclic Monoterpenes
  • Bridged Bicyclo Compounds
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Monoterpenes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • beta-pinene
  • linalool