Chromatographic Analyses, In Vitro Biological Activities, and Cytotoxicity of Cannabis sativa L. Essential Oil: A Multidisciplinary Study

Molecules. 2018 Dec 10;23(12):3266. doi: 10.3390/molecules23123266.


Due to renewed interest in the cultivation and production of Italian Cannabis sativa L., we proposed a multi-methodological approach to explore chemically and biologically both the essential oil and the aromatic water of this plant. We reported the chemical composition in terms of cannabinoid content, volatile component, phenolic and flavonoid pattern, and color characteristics. Then, we demonstrated the ethnopharmacological relevance of this plant cultivated in Italy as a source of antioxidant compounds toward a large panel of enzymes (pancreatic lipase, α-amylase, α-glucosidase, and cholinesterases) and selected clinically relevant, multidrug-sensible, and multidrug-resistant microbial strains (Staphylococcus aureus, Helicobacter pylori, Candida, and Malassezia spp.), evaluating the cytotoxic effects against normal and malignant cell lines. Preliminary in vivo cytotoxicity was also performed on Galleria mellonella larvae. The results corroborate the use of this natural product as a rich source of important biologically active molecules with particular emphasis on the role exerted by naringenin, one of the most important secondary metabolites.

Keywords: Cannabis sativa L.; Galleria mellonella; antimicrobial activity; antioxidant activity; biofilm; cancer cell cytotoxicity; chromatographic analysis; essential oil; naringenin.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Cannabis / chemistry*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Ethnopharmacology
  • Flavonoids / chemistry*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Oils, Volatile / analysis*
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Phenols / chemistry
  • Phenols / pharmacology
  • Plankton / drug effects


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Phenols