Stimulative and sedative effects of essential oils upon inhalation in mice


This study investigated the stimulative or sedative effects of inhaling fragrant essential oils (EOs) by using a forced swimming test (FST) with mice. This behavioral test is commonly used to measure the effects of antidepressant drugs. The inhalation by mice of EOs, such as ginger oil (p<0.05), thyme oil (p<0.05), peppermint oil (p<0.05), and cypress oil (pš0.01) resulted in 5% to 22% reduction of immobility. The same results were achieved when over-agitation was artificially induced in the mice by an intraperitoneal injection of caffeine (a psycho-stimulant). In contrast, inhalation of some EOs by the mice resulted in increased immobility. To evaluate more correctly the sedative effects of EOs, the immobility of over-agitated mice induced with caffeine was ascertained after the inhalation of various EOs. Inhalation of lavender oil (p<0.01) and hyssop oil (p<0.01) increased the immobile state in mice that were treated with caffeine. The results of this study indicate that the inhalation of essential oils may induced stimulative or sedative effects in mice.

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Correspondence to Bum Chun Lee Ph.D..

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Lim, W.C., Seo, J.M., Lee, C.I. et al. Stimulative and sedative effects of essential oils upon inhalation in mice. Arch Pharm Res 28, 770–774 (2005).

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Key words

  • Essential oil
  • Sedative effect
  • Stimulative effect
  • Forced swimming test
  • Fragrance
  • Mice