Myrtle (myrtus communis) is a medicinal plant noted for its mood elevating effects. Its use in the treatment of insomnia and nervous conditions suggest that it has a significant effect on the central nervous system. A number of studies have investigated the mood elevating and hypnotic effects of myrtle and concluded that components within the essential oil may be responsible for these effects. In particular, the terpenes that the essential oil contains may have anxiolytic, sedative and hypnotic effects. myrtenol is a monoterpenoid alcohol present in essential oil of myrtle and this compound has been investigated for its pharmacological action. In one study administration of myrtenol significantly reduced the anxious behaviour in laboratory animals. The drug flumazenil was able to attenuate the anxiolytic effects of myrtenol, suggesting that the effect was transmitted through the GABA neurotransmitter system. Myrtenol may therefore be an active constituent of myrtle, responsible, at least in part, for its anxiolytic effects.
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