Background: Saraswatarishta (SA) is a herbo-mineral formulation consisting of 18 plants some of which are Medhyarasayanas. It has been claimed to be useful in treating central nervous system disorders.
Objective: To evaluate antidepressant effect of 'Saraswatarishta'(SA) alone and in combination with imipramine and fluoxetine in animal models of depression.
Materials and methods: After obtaining IAEC permission, 144 rats (n = 36/part) were randomized into 6 groups- Group 1: Distilled water (1 mL), Group 2: Imipramine (30 mg/kg), Group 3: Fluoxetine (10 mg/kg), Group 4: SA (1.8 mL/kg), Group 5: Imipramine + SA, Group 6: Fluoxetine + SA. Effects of study drugs were evaluated in forced swim test (FST) with single exposure to FST (Part 1) and repeated exposure for 14 days (Part 2). In Part 3, reserpine was used with FST and effects of study drugs were evaluated against single exposure to FST. Same model was used with repeated exposures to FST (Part 4). In each part, rats were subjected to open field test (OFT) for 5 min prior to final FST. The variables measured: Immobility time in FST; line crossing, rearing and defecation in the OFT.
Results: In all four parts, individual drugs and combinations thereof produced significant decrease in immobility time as compared to control, and extent of decrease was comparable amongst these groups. However, values for combination of fluoxetine with SA group were found to be lesser than that for individual agents in Parts 2 and 3. Combination of SA with imipramine did not enhance its anti-depressant effect in any of the parts. OFT findings did not vary significantly amongst the study groups.
Conclusion: Decreased immobility in FST and absence of generalized stimulation or depression of motor activity in OFT point towards potential antidepressant effect of Saraswatarishta. Its co-administration with fluoxetine showed more promising effects.
Keywords: Depression; forced swimming test; reserpine; saraswatarishta.