Antispasmodic Effect of Essential Oils and Their Constituents: A Review

Molecules. 2019 Apr 29;24(9):1675. doi: 10.3390/molecules24091675.


The antispasmodic effect of drugs is used for the symptomatic treatment of cramping and discomfort affecting smooth muscles from the gastrointestinal, billiary or genitourinary tract in a variety of clinical situations.The existing synthetic antispasmodic drugs may cause a series of unpleasant side effects, and therefore the discovery of new molecules of natural origin is an important goal for the pharmaceutical industry. This review describes a series of recent studies investigating the antispasmodic effect of essential oils from 39 plant species belonging to 12 families. The pharmacological models used in the studies together with the mechanistic discussions and the chemical composition of the essential oils are also detailed. The data clearly demonstrate the antispasmodic effect of the essential oils from the aromatic plant species studied. Further research is needed in order to ascertain the therapeutic importance of these findings.

Keywords: antispasmodic effect; aromatic plants; essential oils; isolated ileum; monoterpenes.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / chemistry
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism
  • Clinical Studies as Topic
  • Cyclic AMP / metabolism
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth / metabolism
  • Oils, Volatile / analysis
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry*
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology*
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use
  • Parasympatholytics / chemistry*
  • Parasympatholytics / pharmacology*
  • Parasympatholytics / therapeutic use
  • Phytochemicals / chemistry
  • Phytochemicals / pharmacology
  • Plant Extracts / analysis
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Structure-Activity Relationship
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Calcium Channels
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Parasympatholytics
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts
  • Cyclic AMP