Citrus essential oils inhalation by mice: Behavioral testing, GCMS plasma analysis, corticosterone, and melatonin levels evaluation

Phytother Res. 2018 Jan;32(1):160-169. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5964. Epub 2017 Nov 23.


The use of orange essential oils (EOs) as a complementary treatment is very common in Brazilian popular culture. The levels of melatonin (MEL) and corticosterone (CORT) hormones were investigated simultaneously, by the Luminex™ immunoassay system in mice plasma, after Citrus aurantium and Citrus sinensis EOs inhalation for 30 min. The plasma was analyzed by headspace through gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry for investigation of the EO components. Mice were submitted to behavioral testing to research anxiolytic-like, sedative, and antidepressant-like effects. The inhalation of atmosphere obtained from vaporization of 10% solution of this Citrus EO separately did not affect MEL or CORT plasma levels; that is, the MEL and CORT levels did not present variation in function of the EO in the schedule used. On the other hand, the imipramine positive control used altered the level of MEL as expected. The EO constituents were detected in plasma at different ratios that is present in inhaled EO. Behavioral tests showed that the inhalation of 10% C. sinensis EO presents an anxiolytic-like and sedative effect. Thus, C. sinensis EO can be a valuable tool for treatment of the anxiety disturbs, apparently without interference with MEL and CORT physiological levels.

Keywords: Citrus essential oils; Luminex™ system immunoassay; corticosterone; limonene; linalool; melatonin.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Animals
  • Citrus / chemistry*
  • Corticosterone / metabolism*
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry / methods*
  • Male
  • Melatonin / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry*
  • Plant Oils / chemistry*


  • Oils, Volatile
  • Plant Oils
  • orange oil
  • Melatonin
  • Corticosterone