Seafood for Mood Disorders

weight lossSeafood is increasingly being seen as beneficial to mood disorders. The current opinion is that part of this benefit comes from the high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids in seafood. In particular the omega 3 fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid  (DHA, C22:6 (n-3)) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, C20:5 (n-3)) may have particular mood elevating effects. Omega 3 fatty acids may have particular benefits effects against depression and bipolar disorders. The reason that omega 3 fatty acids may be beneficial against mood disorders is because of the unique structure they possess. The kinked shape of the omega 3 fatty acid molecules increases the fluidity of membranes when the omega 3 fats are incorporated into them. This can have a significant effect on receptors, channels and enzymes to function within the membrane. If this process occurs in the cell membranes of neurones, there may be significant improvements in the efficiency of the neurones and this can play a significant effect on neurochemistry.

seafood anxiety depression

Omega 3 fatty acids can regulate cell function and thereby affect mood. This occurs through three main mechanisms. 1. Regulation of cell membrane fluidity. 2. Activation of anti-inflammatory pathways. 3. Activation of genes that directly influence cell behaviour. Seafood is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, and this may explain the benefits of high seafood diets in protecting from mood disorders.

Another way in which omega 3 fatty acids can influence mood disorders is through the regulation of cellular processes. The omega 3 fatty acids can be released from cell membranes and pass to the interior of the cell, where they become substrates for lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase enzymes. The products of the reactions catalysed by these enzymes are anti-inflammatory compounds that may regulate cellular inflammation downwards. Inflammation may be a cause of neurodegeneration and is implicated as a factor in the development of mood disorders. Omega 3 fatty acids can also regulate gene expression. This can happen directly through interaction with transcription factors such as the peroxisome-proliferator-activated receptor α and γ and the retinoid X receptor, and also indirectly via activation of second messenger systems in the cell interior such as protein kinases. The effects of omega 3 fats to regulate cell processes and affect mood is therefore well reported.   

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself


Hegarty, B. D. and Parker, G. B. 2011. Marine omega‐3 fatty acids and mood disorders–linking the sea and the soul. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 124(1): 42-51
Posted in Anxiety, Brain, Depression, Docosahexaenoic Acid, Eicosapentaenoic Acid, Fish, Fish Oils, Mood | Leave a comment

Omega-3 Fatty Acids To Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

weight lossThere is evidence that there is currently an epidemic of depressive and anxiety disorders in the Western nations. Some have argued this is due to improvements in diagnosis and reporting of mood disorders, but empirical evidence argues against this case and suggests the increase is real. There are many reasons why the rates of mood disorders may be increasing, but perhaps one of the main factors is an increase in stress levels in combination with a poor diet. Chronic stress is highly disruptive to neurochemistry because it causes an increase in inflammation, which in turn causes an increase in oxidative stress. The increase in oxidative stress then causes deleterious changes to the tissues of the brain, altering neuronal signalling and neurotransmitter metabolism. A high quality diet can counteract the deleterious effects of stress because high quality diets can reduce inflammation and reduce oxidative stress. This antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect of high quality plant based diets may be why they are able to elevate mood.

One of the ways that high quality diets can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress is through the provisions of a balanced ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids. The typical Western diet tends to contain too much omega 6 fat and not enough omega 3 fat. It has been suggested by a number of studies that Western diets high in omega 6 containing vegetable oils are a possible driver of the high rates of depression. The high levels of vegetable fat can increase levels of proinflammatory eicosanoids, and this in turn is associated with depression. Increasing the supply of omega 3 fat can redress the imbalance and may have beneficial mood elevating effects through reductions in inflammation. Studies have investigated the effects of omega 3 fatty acids on mood disorders, and the general consensus on the numerous studies that have been performed to date suggest that consumption of omega 3 fatty acids are associated with health benefits that relate to improvements in psychiatric disorders including depressed mood and anxiety.

fish DHA omega-3 depression anxiety

Can fish and seafood consumption decrease the risk of developing mood disorders? Those populations around the World that consume high amounts of fish or seafood as part of their traditional diet tend to have lower rates of depressive symptoms. Fish and seafood consumption may also prevent the development of anxiety.

Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that is more prevalent in the winter months when light levels and solar radiation are much lower. Seasonal affective disorder is associated with omega 3 consumption. It has been reported that fish consumption is inversely associated with seasonally affected disorder in a number of studies. Seasonally affected disorder is for example low in Iceland where fish consumption is high. Also, Japan has a low rate of seasonally affected disorder and the Japanese also consume high amounts of fish. In countries that consume low amounts of fish, seasonally affected disorder is much higher, despite some of these countries receiving much higher levels of sunlight. As the diets of polar communities change from a traditional high fish diet to a lower fish Western style diet, rates of seasonal affective disorder, depression, anxiety and suicide rise. Rates of depressive symptoms are much higher in individuals who consume fish infrequently compared to frequently.  

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself


Parker, G., Gibson, N. A., Brotchie, H., Heruc, G., Rees, A. M. and Hadzi-Pavlovic, D. 2006. Omega-3 fatty acids and mood disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry. 163(6): 969-978
Klerman, G. L. and Weissman, M. M. 1989. Increasing rates of depression. Jama. 261(15): 2229-2235
Hibbeln, J. R. and Salem Jr, N. 1995. Dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and depression: when cholesterol does not satisfy. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 62(1): 1-9
Lieb, J., Karmali, R. and Horrobin, D. 1983. Elevated levels of prostaglandin E2 and thromboxane B2 in depression. Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Medicine. 10(4): 361-367
Perica, M. M. and Delaš, I. 2011. Essential fatty acids and psychiatric disorders. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 26(4): 409-425
McGrath-Hanna, N. K., Greene, D. M., Tavernier, R. J. and Bult-Ito, A. 2003. Diet and mental health in the Arctic: is diet an important risk factor for mental health in circumpolar peoples? – a review. International Journal of Circumpolar Health. 62(3): 228-241
Timonen, M., Horrobin, D., Jokelainen, J., Laitinen, J., Herva, A. and Räsänen, P. 2004. Fish consumption and depression: the Northern Finland 1966 birth cohort study. Journal of Affective Disorders. 82(3): 447-452
Posted in Anxiety, Brain, Depression, Docosahexaenoic Acid, Eicosapentaenoic Acid, Fish, Fish Oils, Inflammation, Mood | Comments Off on Omega-3 Fatty Acids To Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder

The Neuroprotective Effects of Polyphenols

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Mood, Polyphenols | Comments Off on The Neuroprotective Effects of Polyphenols

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): A Source of Apigenin

weight lossChamomile is a medicinal plant with mood enhancing effects. These effects are thought to be due to the presence of flavonoids within the plant tissue. In particular, researchers have shown that chamomile contains apigenin, a flavonoid belonging to the flavone subgroup. Apigenin is found in the free apigenin form and also as apigenin 7-O-glucoside (aligenin bound to a glucose molecule). Apigenin is mainly found in the essential oil of chamomile and has been shown to be relatively heat stable. Chamomile extracts have been reported to contain different ratios of apigenin to apigenin 7-O-glucoside and this may reflect the fact that apigenin glucosides are enzymatically degraded to apigenin in the plant tissues. Therefore plants from different times of the season may contain different ratios of apigenin to apigenin 7-O-glucoside as degradation proceeds. As apigenin is likely responsible for the anxiolytic effects of chamomile, the ratio of apigenin to apigenin 7-O-glucoside may influence the mood elevating effects of the herb.  

chamomile anxiety depression

Chamomile is an effective treatment for mood disorders. Both depression and anxiety respond positively to the administration of chamomile extracts.

As well as apigenin 7-O-glucoside, chamomile contains other acetylated apigenin glucosides in lower amounts but these are unstable and tend to breakdown to form apigenin 7-O-glucoside and then apigenin. Apigenin is thought to confer anxiolytic effects to animals and humans, and these effects are reasonably well reported. However some studies have also shown that apigenin may have antidepressant effects. For example in one study, researchers investigated the antidepressant effects of apigenin in mice. Administration of apigenin was able to attenuate the experimentally induced depression in the animals in a similar manner to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drug fluoxetine. In addition, both apigenin and fluoxetine also decreased the levels of proinflammatory markers in the brains of the mice, suggesting they both exerted anti-inflammatory effects. The authors of the study suggested that the antidepressant effects of apigenin may result from an anti-inflammatory effect in the prefrontal cortex of the mice

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself


Srivastava, J. K. and Gupta, S. 2009. Extraction, characterization, stability and biological activity of flavonoids isolated from chamomile flowers. Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology. 1(3): 2-15
Švehlı́ková, V., Bennett, R. N., Mellon, F. A., Needs, P. W., Piacente, S., Kroon, P. A. and Bao, Y. 2004. Isolation, identification and stability of acylated derivatives of apigenin 7-O-glucoside from chamomile (Chamomilla recutita [L.] Rauschert). Phytochemistry. 65(16): 2323-2332.
Schreiber, A., Carle, R. and Reinhard, E. 1990. On the accumulation of apigenin in chamomile flowers. Planta Medica. 56(02): 179-181
Li, R., Zhao, D., Qu, R., Fu, Q. and Ma, S. 2015. The effects of apigenin on lipopolysaccharide-induced depressive-like behavior in mice. Neuroscience Letters. 594: 17-22
Posted in Anxiety, Apigenin, Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita), Depression, Flavones, Flavonoids | Comments Off on Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): A Source of Apigenin

Does Drinking Water Cause Fat Loss?

Posted in Body Fat, Water, Weight Loss | Comments Off on Does Drinking Water Cause Fat Loss?

Rhodiola rosea (Arctic Root)

Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Mood, Rhodiola rosea (roseroot) | Comments Off on Rhodiola rosea (Arctic Root)

Sage (Salvia): Medicinal Plant

weight lossSage (Salvia) is a group of plants belonging to the Lamiaceae or mint family of. The plants are mostly aromatic on account of the presence of a characteristic essential oil. The most commonly known species of sage is perhaps Salvia officinalis which is also known as garden sage, golden sage, broadleaf sage culinary sage or common sage, although there are perhaps as many as 900 species throughout the World. Sage is often taken as a tea or decoction in order to confer medicinal properties to the consumer. The current understanding of sage suggests that extracts of the herb may play a role treating digestive disorders, circulation problems, bronchitis, asthma, coughs, angina, throat infections, skin diseases and angina. In terms of mood disorders, sage has been shown to be effective as an antidepressant, anxiolytic and a memory enhancing agent. The mood elevating effects of sage may be due to the ability of the herb to increase brain levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine by inhibiting the enzyme acetylcholinesterase.

sage anxiety depression

The pharmacology of Salvia officinalis (common sage) has been extensively investigated. The essential oil contains a number of chemicals that are mostly terpenes, and these include 1,8‑cineole, camphor, borneol, bornyl acetate, camphene, α‑thujone and β‑thujone, thymol, linalool, α‑caryophyllene and β‑caryophyllene, α‑humulene, α‑pinene and β‑pinene, viridiflorol, pimaradiene, salvianolic acid, rosmarinic acid, carnosolic acid and ursolic acid. Some of these compounds, particularly rosmarinic acid, β‑caryophyllene, thymol and linalool have been investigated for their effects against mood disorders and found to be effective anxiolytic agents. Many of the chemicals in the essential oils have been shown to possess potent free radical scavenging activity. The ability to scavenge free radicals and reduce oxidative stress may be one of the primary mechanisms by which sage exerts its medicinal properties. In particular, evidence suggests that α‑thujone, β‑thujone, bornyl acetate, camphor, menthone, and 1,8‑cineol in the essential oil may have particularly strong radical scavenging activity.

The memory improving effects of sage species are quite well reported. For example, in one study on healthy human subjects sage essential oil extracts caused significant improvements in memory. It was confirmed using rat experiments that the sage essential oil extract cause significant inhibition of the acetylcholinesterase enzyme. This inhibition would raise acetylcholine levels in the brain, and this could improve memory. Postmortems on humans have also provided evidence that sage can inhibit the acetylcholinesterase enzyme in humans. It is likely that the main components of sage that are responsible for this memory enhancing effect may be the terpene compounds in the essential oil. Sage may also have neuroprotective effects due to the presence of high amounts of antioxidant chemicals in the essential and non-essential fractions of herbal extracts. The general improvements in brain function attributed to sage may therefore explain the mood elevating effects, suggesting that sage could be a general brain tonic.  

sage anxiety depression

Sage also contains flavonoids and other polyphenolic substances including carnosic acid, rosmarinic acid and particularly caffeic acid. Evidence suggests that most of the polyphenolic substances in sage are derivatives of the phenolic acid caffeic acid. Polyphenols including flavonoids and phenolic acids have strong free radical scavenging activity, which may confer protection from disease. Both rosmarinic acid and carnosic acid may be responsible for a large part of the antioxidant activity of sage. However certain flavonoids and phenolic acids have been shown to have particular beneficial effects against mood disorders. For example, caffeic acid may possess anxiolytic effects. Rosmarinic acid is a derivative of caffeic acid, and it may too possess anxiolytic activity. Ursolic acid is a pentacyclic triterpenoid found in sage that may also have medicinal properties as an anti-inflammatory. As inflammation is associated with oxidative stress and detrimental effects to brain tissue, ursolic acid may also play a role in the mood elevating effects of sage. The flavonoid luteolin‑7‑O‑β‑glucopyranoside is present in sage. Luteolin and its glycosides belong to the flavone group of flavonoids and have been shown to have an affinity for the benzodiazepine receptor in animal studies, suggesting they may exert anxiolytic effects in a similar way to benzodiazepine drugs.

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself


Hamidpour, M., Hamidpour, R., Hamidpour, S. and Shahlari, M. 2014. Chemistry, pharmacology, and medicinal property of sage (Salvia) to prevent and cure illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, depression, dementia, lupus, autism, heart disease, and cancer. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine. 4(2): 82-88
Perry, N., Howes, M. J., Houghton, P. and Perry, E. 2000. 14. Why sage may be s wise remedy: effects of salvia on the nervous system. The Genus Salvia. 207-224. In Medicinal and aromatic plants. Kintzios, S. E. (ed). Overseas Publishers Association. Amsterdam
Perry, N. S., Bollen, C., Perry, E. K. and Ballard, C. 2003. Salvia for dementia therapy: review of pharmacological activity and pilot tolerability clinical trial. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 75(3): 651-659
Imanshahidi, M. and Hosseinzadeh, H. 2006. The pharmacological effects of Salvia species on the central nervous system. Phytotherapy Research. 20(6): 427-437
Posted in Anxiety, Brain, Depression, Herbs, Mood, Salvia Plants (Sage) | Comments Off on Sage (Salvia): Medicinal Plant

Salvia (Sage) Plants: Anxiety Treatments?

weight lossSalvia (sage) plants are a perennial plant that belongs to the Lamiaceae or mint family of plants. The most well known of these plants is possibly Salvia officinalis, which is also called common sage or garden sage. Salvia plants tend to grow to about 1 meter in height and possesses hairy leaves and a long stem that often possesses purple or lavender flowers. Salvia plants have a widespread distribution being found in both tropical and temperate region, and are often grown in gardens. Many of the plants in this group are aromatic. The aromatic nature of this group of plants comes from the presence of an essential oil in the plant tissues. These plants are often used in cooking because of their distinctive taste properties. Salvia species of plants have been used for a number of medicinal effects, For example, the aerial parts of Salvia officinalis is used as a blood sugar lowering agent, Salvia sclare is used as a tonic, Salvia macrosiphon is used as an antimicrobial and Salvia aegyptica is used as an anti-inflammatory.

sage anxiety mood

Salvia miltiorrhiza, also called red sage, Chinese sage, Tan shen or danshen, is another salvia plant that may have medicinal properties. Analysis of Salvia miltiorrhiza revealed that it contains a large number of phytochemicals that may explain its pharmacological activity. The phytochemicals present in Salvia miltiorrhiza include the phenolic acids protocatechuic acid, ptotocatechuic aldehyde, caffeic acid, isoferulic acid and Danshensu (3,4- diydroxyphenyllactic acid). There are also a number of polyphenols that are mainly conjugates of the phenolic acid, danshensu or caffeic acid. Other polyphenolic acids are rosmarinic acid, lithospermic acid and salvianolic acid A-G.

However, some of the salvia plants may have beneficial effects in the treatment of anxiety. For example, in one study, the neurochemical effects of lilac sage (Salvia reuterina, also called whorled clary) was investigated using animal models. Administration of lilac sage resulted in significant reductions in the anxious behaviour exhibited by mice when they were exposed to experimental stress. In addition, mice administered lilac sage also displayed significant reduction in movement, suggesting that the herb was an effective sedative. The mood elevating effects of Salvia has also been investigated in humans. In one study, human subjects were administered essential oil extract from Salvia lavandulaefolia. The results of the study showed that at 50 μL dose, the essential oil significantly improved the memory of the subjects. The same researchers also showed improvements in memory with 25 and 50 μL doses of Salvia officinalis and improvements in alertness, calness and centrentedness in the 50  μL dose group.

sage anxiety depression mood

Analysis of Salvia reterana showed that the volatile constituents of the plant included 21 components in the essential oil including β-ocimene (32 %), α-gurjunene (14 %), germacrened (11 %) and hexyl acetate (8 %). Analysis of Salvia reterana showed that the volatile constituents of the plant included 31 components in the essential oil including β-caryophyllene (42 %), germacrene-B (21 %), caryophyllene oxide (7 %), cis-β-farnesene (6 %) and germacrene-D (6 %). Garden or common sage (salvia officinalis) (pictured) may have similar phytochemical constituents.

In another study, the effects of Salvia officinalis (garden sage or common sage) were investigated on the mood, anxiety and under-stress performance of healthy young subjects. Subjects were administered 300 or 600 mg of sage leaf and their mood was then evaluated on the Bond-Lader mood scale and the State Trait Anxiety Inventory. At both doses, administration of salvia officinalis led to improvements in mood. At the lower dose the herb was effective at reducing anxiety and at higher doses increasing alertness, calmness and contentedness. However administration of stress to the subjects did modify these effects, as might be expected. The researchers showed that the sage leaf extracts were able to inhibit acetylcholinesterase in the tissue cultures. This suggests that one of the mechanisms by which sage may work is through the inhibition of the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine. This may increase acetylcholine levels in the brain, producing elevations in mood and memory.

anxiety sage mood depression

Extracts of sage may inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase and in doing so, increase brain levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This may then in turn increase memory and mood. In one study, a single dose 50 μL of salvia lavandulaefolia essential oil was administered to healthy participants. Oral consumption of the essential oil of Salvia lavandulaefolia was effective at improving memory and attention in the subjects, notably at 1 hour post consumption. In contrast improved alertness and reduced mental fatigue were more pronounced at 4 hours post consumption. This essential oil was made up almost exclusively of monoterpenoids. It was confirmed using tissue studies, that the essential oil was a potent inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase. Therefore the monoterpenes in the essential oil of Salvia lavandulaefolia may be partly responsible for the memory and mood elevating effects of the herb.

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself


Rabbani, M., Sajjadi, S. E., Jafarian, A. and Vaseghi, G. 2005. Anxiolytic effects of Salvia Reuterana Boiss. on the elevated plus-maze model of anxiety in mice. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 101(1): 100-103
De Palma, A., Rossi, R., Carai, M., Cabras, C., Colombo, G., Arnoldi, L., Fuzzati, N., Riva, A., Morazzoni, P. and Mauri, P. L. 2008. Pharmaceutical and biomedical analysis of terpene constituents in Salvia miltiorrhiza. Current Pharmaceutical Analysis. 4(4): 249-257
Mirza, M., & Sefidkon, F. 1999. Essential oil composition of two Salvia species from Iran, Salvia nemorosa L. and Salvia reuterana Boiss. Flavour and Fragrance Journal. 14(4): 230-232
Kennedy, D. O., Pace, S., Haskell, C., Okello, E. J., Milne, A. and Scholey, A. B. 2006. Effects of cholinesterase inhibiting sage (Salvia officinalis) on mood, anxiety and performance on a psychological stressor battery. Neuropsychopharmacology. 31(4): 845-852
Tildesley, N. T., Kennedy, D. O., Perry, E. K., Ballard, C. G., Savelev, S. A. W. K., Wesnes, K. A. and Scholey, A. B. 2003. Salvia lavandulaefolia (Spanish sage) enhances memory in healthy young volunteers. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 75(3): 669-674
Tildesley, N. T. J., Kennedy, D. O., Perry, E. K., Ballard, C. G., Wesnes, K. A. and Scholey, A. B. 2005. Positive modulation of mood and cognitive performance following administration of acute doses of Salvia lavandulaefolia essential oil to healthy young volunteers. Physiology and Behavior. 83(5): 699-709
Kennedy, D. O., Dodd, F. L., Robertson, B. C., Okello, E. J., Reay, J. L., Scholey, A. B. and Haskell, C. F. 2011. Monoterpenoid extract of sage (Salvia lavandulaefolia) with cholinesterase inhibiting properties improves cognitive performance and mood in healthy adults. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 25(8): 1088-1100
Posted in Anxiety, Brain, Depression, Herbs, Mood, Salvia Plants (Sage) | Comments Off on Salvia (Sage) Plants: Anxiety Treatments?

Are Low Energy Neuroprotective?

weight lossFasting has been known to produce anticonvulsant effects since the 1920’s. In fact low energy diets and fasting are recorded at effective treatments for epilepsy by mainstream medicine. As understanding of this process has increased, it has become clear that low energy diets and fasting may have general neuroprotective effects in animals and humans. On interesting aspect of this research is that ketogenic diets and the presence of ketone bodies in the blood appears to be neuroprotective, and this may explain the neuroprotective effects of fasting and low energy diets. Further, it is known that low energy diets are protective of both Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease and that obesity increases the risk of dementia. Low energy diets may also increase energy pathways in the brain providing cognitive benefits. It is also known that energy restriction can improve mood. In animals, the normal deterioration seen with age in cognitive function is also reduced with energy restriction.

energy restriction mood

The sirtuins are a group of enzymes that regulate gene expression. Increasing the expression of sirtuins increases longevity in animals and may increase neuroprotective factors in the brain. In mammals, energy restriction increases expression of sirtuins. Resveratrol, a polyphenol found in grapes and red wine also increases expression of sirtuins. This may explain why red wine has been shown to increase the age-related memory decline seen in mammals.

It was originally thought that the improvements in mood, memory and other cognitive functions seen in energy restrictive diets may be due to improved mitochondrial function and ultimately decreases free radical generation, or through gene regulation that increases the production of neuroprotective factors. These mechanisms may contribute to the beneficial neurochemical effects of energy restrictive diets. A more recent theory suggests that the stress placed upon the cells of the brain by energy restriction, may increase the efficiency of the energy production of the cell. Energy restricted diets may also increase antioxidant defences by upregulating antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase. Coupled with the decrease in free radicals generated by the improved mitochondrial function, this may decrease oxidative stress in the tissue of the brain and decrease lipid peroxidation of cell membranes, improving neuronal transmission and thereby improving mood.  

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself


Maalouf, M., Rho, J. M. and Mattson, M. P. 2009. The neuroprotective properties of calorie restriction, the ketogenic diet, and ketone bodies. Brain Research Reviews. 59(2): 293-315
Wing, R. R., Marcus, M. D., Blair, E. H. and Burton, L. R. 1991. Psychological responses of obese type II diabetic subjects to very-low-calorie diet. Diabetes Care. 14(7): 596-599
Posted in Anxiety, Depression, Red Wine, Resveratrol | Comments Off on Are Low Energy Neuroprotective?

Linalool: A Plant Terpene with Anxiolytic Effects

weight lossLinalool is a phytochemical belonging to the terpene group. Linalool is a component of the essential oils of a number of aromatic plants and it may have particular medicinal effects. Essential oils are concentrated volatile phytochemicals that produce a strong odour. They often contain high amounts of hydrocarbons, mainly terpenes and terpene derivatives as well as non-hydrocarbons such as alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, phenols, oxides and esters. Such essential oils are used nutritionally in traditional medicine and are also used as treatments in aromatherapy. Essential oils have been shown to possess a number of therapeutic effects, and in some cases can be useful in the treatment of mood disorders. Essential oils containing linalool have traditionally been used for their relaxing and calming properties. Linalool is found in a number of medicinal plants including Lavandula angustifolia (lavender), Melissa officinalis (lemon balm), Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) and Cymbopogon citratus (lemon grass).

lavender anxiety depression

The essential oils of plants contain two groups of phytochemicals. The first group are hydrocarbons that comprise mainly of terpenes and terpene derivatives such as monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and diterpenes. In addition, there are a group of non-hydrocarbons that include oxygenated chemicals that include oxides, phenols, aldehydes, ketones, esters and alcohols. Linalool is a terpene, bt linalool oxide is a monocyclic alcohol. Linalool is present in a number of plant essential oils. Pictured is lavender, which contains linalool. The essential oil from lavender may be relaxing and calming because of its linalool content.

Inhaled linalool has been shown to possess sedative effects in mice. At 1 % and 3 % saturation of air with linalool, mice experienced increase sleeping time when exposed for 60 minutes. In addition, the inhalation of linalool decrease body temperature in the mice. At the higher 3 % dose, the mice also experienced reductions in locomotion. All of these effects taken together suggest that linalool possesses sedative effects in mammals. In another study on mice, the behavioural effects of inhaled linalool were investigated. Again mice were exposed to air saturated with 1 % and 3 % linalool and their behavior was observed. The addition of linalool to the air decreased the anxious behaviour exhibited by the mice. In addition, the linalool increased social interaction and decreased aggressive behaviour. The authors concluded that inhaled linalool may be an effective way of inducing relaxation and decreasing anxiety. This sort of administration of linalool is inline with the use of certain essential oils in aromatherapy.  

lemon grass anxiety depression

Research has shown that linalool has particular central nervous system effects in mammals. In particular linalool has been shown to have sedative, hypnotic and anxiolytic effects in rats and mice. Linalool may work by binding to glutamate receptors in the brain. In experiments of rats, linalool has been shown to inhibit the glutamate receptor in a similar way to the barbiturate drug phenobarbital. Glutamate receptors are excitatory, and activation of them increases excitation in the brain. By inhibiting the receptors, linalool may exert its calming effects. Pictured is lemon grass. Lemongrass my be calming and relaxing because of the linalool content of its essential oil.

In another study, researcher investigated the effects of linalool on the behaviour of rats. The researchers reported that the linalool, administered as an injection, reduced the movement exhibited by the rats, suggesting that it had a sedative effect. However the researchers injected the linalool into the rats, rather than by using inhalation, which may explain the lack of effects. Linalool can be oxidised to another chemical called linalool oxide. Linalool oxide is also found in certain plants essential oils, albeit at a lower concentration that linalool. The behavioural and mood elevating effects of linalool oxide have also been investigated. In one study, researchers administered linalool oxide to mice by inhalation in a chamber, through mixture with air. Mice receiving the linalool oxide exhibited a reduction in anxious behaviour, suggesting that the linalool oxide had conferred anxiolytic effects on the mice. At some concentrations of linalool oxide, the effects were close to those of the benzodiazepine drug diazepam.

rosemary anxiety depression

Administration of linalool to mice improves their memory and learning. This has made linalool an interesting compound for researchers investigating treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. Linalool appears to have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects in brain tissue, and this may explain its neurochemical effects. Mice administered linalool also demonstrate behavioural changes that are indicative of elevated mood, particularly, with regard to reductions in anxiety. Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary), pictured, contains linalool.

Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Protect Yourself


Souto-Maior, F. N., de Carvalho, F. L., de Morais, L. C. S. L., Netto, S. M., de Sousa, D. P. and de Almeida, R. N. 2011. Anxiolytic-like effects of inhaled linalool oxide in experimental mouse anxiety models. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior. 100(2): 259-263
de Moura Linck, V., da Silva, A. L., Figueiró, M., Piato, A. L., Herrmann, A. P., Birck, F. D., Caramao, E. B., Nunes, D. S., Moreno, P. R. H. and Elisabetsky, E. 2009. Inhaled linalool-induced sedation in mice. Phytomedicine. 16(4): 303-307
Linck, V., da Silva, A., Figueiró, M., Caramão, E. B., Moreno, P. R. H. and Elisabetsky, E. 2010. Effects of inhaled Linalool in anxiety, social interaction and aggressive behavior in mice. Phytomedicine. 17(8): 679-683
Cline, M., Taylor, J. E., Flores, J., Bracken, S. and McCall, S. 2008. Investigation of the anxiolytic effects of linalool, a lavender extract, in the male Sprague-Dawley rat. AANA Journal. 76(1): 1-6
Elisabetsky, E., Marschner, J. and Souza, D. O. 1995. Effects of linalool on glutamatergic system in the rat cerebral cortex. Neurochemical Research. 20(4): 461-465
Maria, S. G. A., Edison, O. and Patricia, C. G. G. 2016. Linalool reverses neuropathological and behavioral impairments in old triple transgenic Alzheimer’s mice. Neuropharmacology. 102: 111-120
Posted in Anxiety, Brain, Depression, Lavender, Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), Linalool, Mood, Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) | Comments Off on Linalool: A Plant Terpene with Anxiolytic Effects