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December 18, 2022


Therapeutic Effect and Mechanisms of Essential Oils in Mood Disorders: Interaction between the Nervous and Respiratory Systems



Int J Mol Sci. 2021 May; 22(9): 4844.
International Journal of Molecular Science 分子科学国際雑誌



Essential oils (EOs) are extracted from plants and contain active components with therapeutic effects. Evidence shows that various types of EOs have a wide range of health benefits. In our previous studies, the potential of lavender EO for prevention and even treatment of depression and anxiety symptoms was demonstrated. The favourable outcomes may be due to multiple mechanisms, including the regulation of monoamine level, the induction of neurotrophic factor expression, the regulation of the endocrine system and the promotion of neurogenesis.


Monoamine モノアミン
モノアミンとはドーパミン、ノルアドレナリン、アドレナリン、セロトニン、ヒスタミンなどの神経伝達物質の総称である 脳科学辞典より

neurotrophic factor 神経栄養因子

The molecules of EOs may reach the brain and exert an effect through two distinctive pathways, namely, the olfactory system and the respiratory system. After inhalation, the molecules of the EOs would either act directly on the olfactory mucosa or pass into the respiratory tract. These two delivery pathways suggest different underlying mechanisms of action. Different sets of responses would be triggered, such as increased neurogenesis, regulation of hormonal levels, activation of different brain regions, and alteration in blood biochemistry, which would ultimately affect both mood and emotion.


Neurogenesis 神経新生

In this review, we will discuss the clinical effects of EOs on mood regulation and emotional disturbances as well as the cellular and molecular mechanisms of action. Emphasis will be put on the interaction between the respiratory and central nervous system and the involved potential mechanisms.


Further evidence is needed to support the use of EOs in the clinical treatment of mood disturbances. Exploration of the underlying mechanisms may provide insight into the future therapeutic use of EO components treatment of psychiatric and physical symptoms.


Keywords: inhalation therapy, essential oil, anti-depression, anxiolytic

キーワード: 吸入療法、精油、抗うつ作用、抗不安作用



Essential oil (EO), as the main component used in inhalation therapy, has been widely investigated for its therapeutic effects. Evidence indicates that EOs can successfully reduce anxiety and relieve pain when combined with conventional treatment [1,2]. EOs can be administered through oral consumption, direct skin contact, or inhalation [3]. Among all different administration routes, inhalation is the most commonly adopted method. In fact, EOs from different plant extracts have been studied to demonstrate different effects, with lavender and bergamot EOs being the most widely used ones for relaxation in either single use or mixed use with reported pharmacodynamic interactions [4]. It has been shown that the different positive effects were linked to specific constituents in EOs [5,6]. Therefore, the combined use of EOs consisting of different molecular compounds, is able to maximise the therapeutic effect [7,8].


pharmacodynamic interactions 薬力学的相互作用

While the clinical effectiveness of EOs on depression and mood disturbances has already been proven, the underlying mechanisms of the therapeutic effects still remain elusive. In this review, we will discuss the biological routes of the volatile EO molecules upon entering the body and the possible cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying their therapeutic effects.



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