Anxiolytic-like activity and GC-MS analysis of (R)-(+)-limonene fragrance, a natural compound found in foods and plants

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2013 Jan;103(3):450-4. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2012.09.005. Epub 2012 Sep 18.


The traditional use of essential oils in aromatherapy has offered numerous health benefits. However, few scientific studies have been conducted with these oils to confirm their therapeutic efficacy. (+)-Limonene is a chemical constituent of various bioactive essential oils. The present study reports on the anxiolytic-like effects of (+)-limonene in an elevated maze model of anxiety in mice. At concentrations of 0.5% and 1.0%, (+)-limonene, administered to mice by inhalation, significantly modified all the parameters evaluated in the elevated plus maze test. The pharmacological effect of inhaled (+)-limonene (1%) was not blocked by flumazenil. Analysis of (+)-limonene using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) showed its volatility to be high. These data suggest possible connections between the volatility of (+)-limonene and its anxiolytic-like effect on the parameters evaluated in the elevated plus maze test. The data indicate that (+)-limonene could be used in aromatherapy as an antianxiety agent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Biological Products / administration & dosage
  • Biological Products / chemistry
  • Biological Products / pharmacology*
  • Cyclohexenes / administration & dosage
  • Cyclohexenes / chemistry
  • Cyclohexenes / pharmacology*
  • Drug Interactions
  • Flumazenil / pharmacology
  • Food*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry
  • Limonene
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Plants / chemistry*
  • Terpenes / administration & dosage
  • Terpenes / chemistry
  • Terpenes / pharmacology*
  • Time Factors
  • Volatilization


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Biological Products
  • Cyclohexenes
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Terpenes
  • Flumazenil
  • Limonene