Anxiolytic Terpenoids and Aromatherapy for Anxiety and Depression

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2020:1260:283-296. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-42667-5_11.


In our society, anxiety and depression are serious health issues that affect a large proportion of the population. Unfortunately, drug therapies are not always effective and can lead to drug abuse, delay of therapeutic effect, dependence, and tolerance. Traditionally, aromatherapy has also been used for anxiety relief and mood improvement. The use of essential oils, in relieving anxiety and depression, does not have the disadvantages associated with currently used drug therapies. In-vivo studies on animal models have verified the anxiolytic effects of these essential oils and the interactions of their major components with central nervous system receptors. Therefore, it seems reasonable to argue that the modulation of glutamate and GABA neurotransmitter systems are likely to be the critical mechanisms responsible for the sedative, anxiolytic, and anticonvulsant proprieties of linalool and essential oils containing linalool in significant proportions. Popular anxiolytic essential oils are generally rich in terpenoid alcohols like linalool, geraniol and citronellol, and the monoterpene limonene (or citral). Therefore, other essential oils or formulations that contain these terpenoids as major components may serve as important aromatherapeutics for relief of anxiety.

Keywords: Anxiety; Aromatherapy; Depression; Essential oil; Terpenoids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Anxiety Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anticonvulsants / chemistry
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology
  • Anticonvulsants / therapeutic use
  • Anxiety / drug therapy*
  • Aromatherapy*
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / chemistry
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / pharmacology
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use
  • Oils, Volatile / chemistry
  • Oils, Volatile / pharmacology
  • Oils, Volatile / therapeutic use*
  • Terpenes / chemistry
  • Terpenes / pharmacology
  • Terpenes / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Anxiety Agents
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Oils, Volatile
  • Terpenes