Antinociceptive effect of the essential oil of tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)

Pharm Biol. 2014 Feb;52(2):208-12. doi: 10.3109/13880209.2013.824007. Epub 2013 Sep 30.


Context: Tarragon [Artemisia dracunculus L. (Asteraceae)] is used as a commercial flavoring and in perfumery. In traditional folk medicine, tarragon has been used for treatment of pain and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Objective: This study investigated the antinociceptive effect of the essential oil of A. dracunculus (EOAD) in various experimental models.

Materials and methods: The median lethal dose (LD50) of EOAD was estimated using the method of Lorke. The antinociceptive effect was assessed using chemical (formalin and acetic acid) and thermal (hot-plate) nociceptive tests in rats and mice. In all experiments, EOAD was administered intraperitoneally at the doses of 10, 30, 100 and 300 mg/kg.

Results: In the acute toxicity test, the value of estimated LD50 for EOAD was 1250 mg/kg. EOAD (100 and 300 mg/kg) significantly reduced (p < 0.001) the pain response in the first (59.5 and 91.4%) and second (52.5 and 86.3%) phases of the formalin test, respectively. Central involvement in analgesic profile was confirmed by the hot-plate test, in which the EOAD showed a significant analgesic activity by increasing latency time. EOAD (10, 30, 100 and 300 mg/kg) significantly (p < 0.001) inhibited (89, 95, 97 and 97%) the nociception produced by acetic acid. Naloxone failed to antagonize the antinociceptive effect of the essential oil in the acetic acid-induced writhing test. It seems that mechanism(s) other than opioid receptors is (are) involved in the analgesic effect of EOAD.

Conclusions: This study reported the peripheral and central antinociceptive activity of the EOAD and rationalized the traditional use of the plant in the treatment of different painful conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / administration & dosage
  • Analgesics / isolation & purification
  • Analgesics / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Artemisia / chemistry*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Injections, Intraperitoneal
  • Lethal Dose 50
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Mice
  • Naloxone / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / administration & dosage
  • Oils, Volatile / isolation & purification
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Pain / drug therapy*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Toxicity Tests, Acute


  • Analgesics
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Naloxone