Lavender oil-potent anxiolytic properties via modulating voltage dependent calcium channels

PLoS One. 2013 Apr 29;8(4):e59998. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059998. Print 2013.

Abstract

Recent clinical data support the clinical use of oral lavender oil in patients suffering from subsyndromal anxiety. We identified the molecular mechanism of action that will alter the perception of lavender oil as a nonspecific ingredient of aromatherapy to a potent anxiolytic inhibiting voltage dependent calcium channels (VOCCs) as highly selective drug target. In contrast to previous publications where exorbitant high concentrations were used, the effects of lavender oil in behavioral, biochemical, and electrophysiological experiments were investigated in physiological concentrations in the nanomolar range, which correlate to a single dosage of 80 mg/d in humans that was used in clinical trials. We show for the first time that lavender oil bears some similarities with the established anxiolytic pregabalin. Lavender oil inhibits VOCCs in synaptosomes, primary hippocampal neurons and stably overexpressing cell lines in the same range such as pregabalin. Interestingly, Silexan does not primarily bind to P/Q type calcium channels such as pregabalin and does not interact with the binding site of pregabalin, the α2δ subunit of VOCCs. Lavender oil reduces non-selectively the calcium influx through several different types of VOCCs such as the N-type, P/Q-type and T-type VOCCs. In the hippocampus, one brain region important for anxiety disorders, we show that inhibition by lavender oil is mainly mediated via N-type and P/Q-type VOCCs. Taken together, we provide a pharmacological and molecular rationale for the clinical use of the oral application of lavender oil in patients suffering from anxiety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology*
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology*
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Pregabalin
  • Synaptosomes / drug effects
  • Synaptosomes / metabolism
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / pharmacology

Substances

  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Calcium Channels
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • Pregabalin
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • lavender oil

Grant support

This study was supported by a research grant of Dr. Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals to K. Leuner and W. E. Müller. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.