Ocimum gratissimum is a herb with central nervous system effects. These effects are not fully understood, but appear to give leaf extracts of the herb sedative, relaxant, anxiolytic and antidepressant effects. It is thought that the essential oil of the plant is the component that may provide these effects, as it has been shown to contain a number of phytochemicals that are able to interact with the central nervous system in animals. Studies have investigated the effects of the essential oil of Ocimum gratissimum on mice to determine if sedative, anxiolytic or antidepressant effects can be conferred to the animals through inhalation. In this regard the behaviour of the mice changed to indicate the essential oil produced significant sedative, anxiolytic and antidepressant effects. In addition, the main chemical constituent of the essential oil was shown to be thymol (around 65 % of the oil). Thymol may therefore be the component that gives Ocimum gratissimum essential oil its central nervous system effects.
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